Life On The Job

Indigenous Famous Person's Story

Evonne Fay Goolagong Cawley (31 July 1951 - ) SPORTSPERSON




Evonne Goolagong Cawley, AO, MBE (born 31 July 1951) is an Australian former World No. 1 female tennis player. (Source: Wikipedia)

Evonne Goolagong Cawley, a member of the Wiradjuri people, was the first indigenous Australian to win a Wimbledon Tennis Championship in 1971. (Source: Australian Women's Register)

She was one of the world's leading players in the 1970s and early 1980s, when she won 14 Grand Slam titles: seven in singles (four Australian Open, two Wimbledon and one French Open), six in women's doubles, and one in mixed doubles. Her career win-loss percentage was 81.01% (704–165). Her win-loss performance in all Grand Slam singles tournaments was 82.09% (133–29), at the French Open, 84.21% (16–3), at Wimbledon, 83.33% (50–10), at the US Open, 81.25% (26–6), and at the Australian Open, 80.39% (41–10). (Source: Wikipedia)


Evonne Cawley is the daughter of Kenny Goolagong, a shearer, and his wife Linda, née Hamilton. She grew up in Barellan, country New South Wales, one of a family of eight children, and was educated at Barellan primary and central schools. She was a good athlete and showed an early aptitude for tennis, which members of her family and friends encouraged. She was given special dispensation because of her age to join the local tennis club at the age of seven. She attracted the interest of Mr Vic Edwards, the owner of the Victor A Edwards Tennis School (VAETS) at the age of eleven, when a tennis clinic was held in Barellan in 1961.

Barellan's Location

"Barellan is notable as the childhood home of the tennis-player, Evonne Goolagong (now Evonne Cawley). There is a small plaque honouring her in the main street. Evonne Goolagong was born in nearby Griffith on 31 July 1951 and attended Barellan Primary School.

 Although Aboriginal people faced widespread discrimination in rural Australia at this time, Evonne was able to play tennis in Barellan from childhood thanks to a kindly resident, Bill Kurtzman, who saw her peering through the fence at the local courts and encouraged her to come in and play.

Goolagong left Barellan to attend Willoughby Girls High School in Sydney where she was able to further develop her tennis-playing skills.

The Big Tennis Racquet.

Big Tennis Racquet

A 13.8 metres (45 ft) long replica of a tennis racquet used by Evonne Goolagong has been built in Evonne Goolagong Park. Goolagong unveiled the exact scale model of the wooden Dunlop racquet during Barellan's centenary celebrations on 3 October 2009."
(Source: Wikipedia)

On the suggestion of Edwards, she moved to Sydney permanently in 1965, at the age of fourteen, to concentrate on her tennis career and lived with the Edwards family. Edwards coached her and later became her personal manager. She attended Willoughby Girls High School and completed her School Certificate in 1968, then undertook secretarial studies at the Metropolitan Business College. She entered the New South Wales Championship at the age of fifteen and in January 1968 played in the Australian women's singles championship. At this point she was ranked as the top junior in New South Wales.  (Source: Australian Women's Register)

Experiences, Opportunities and Training:

In 1970 she travelled to London to compete at Wimbledon for the first time and was a member of the Australian Federation Cup team in the same year. The year 1971 was a highlight of her career, as she won the French Open, the British Hard Court Championships and Wimbledon. In 1972 she was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to tennis, and received her award at Buckingham Palace.

She married Roger Cawley on 19 June 1975, in London, and followed it up with a blessing at St Clements Anglican Church and open-house party in her home town of Barellan later in the year. On her marriage, she severed her business relationship with Vic Edwards and settled in the United States of America. Her first child, Kelly, was born on 12 May 1977 at Beaufort, USA and her second, Morgan, on 28 May 1981 in the same hospital.

She won her second Wimbledon title in 1980. She also played with the Pittsburgh Triangles until 1976. She received her second honour, the Order of Australia, in 1982. After nursing injuries for a period, she retired from competition in 1983. In 1988 she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island, USA.  (Source: Australian Women's Register)


She returned to Australia to live in 1991 at Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and has travelled around Australia, coming to understand the importance of her Aboriginal heritage and introducing her American born children to their indigenous culture. She was a member of the Board of the Australian Sports Commission from 1995-1997. Since 1997, she has held the position of Sports Ambassador to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Communities.  (Source: Australian Women's Register)



bullet.gif (981 bytes)The Australian Women's Register

Australian Women's Register

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Tennis Australia

Tennis Australia
bullet.gif (981 bytes)International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum


bullet.gif (981 bytes)National Museum of Australia

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Goolagong discusses Aborigine roots

News article
bullet.gif (981 bytes)ABC - Inside Edge


Audio file to listen to this interview.
bullet.gif (981 bytes)7.30 Report - 22/9/2000

ABC's 7.30 Report
bullet.gif (981 bytes)ABC - Far North Queensland - 2010

ABC Far North Queensland
bullet.gif (981 bytes)ABC - Grandstand - Audio of Interview



Word dense discussion - worth a read.
The Conversation
The Conversation 13 January 2021


Did You Know?

In the Wimbledon 1971 final, she defeated Margaret Court, the only other Australian woman ever to win the title.

She was the first Australian Aboriginal woman to achieve international fame in sport and the first Aboriginal person to do so in any sport other than football or boxing.

In 1971, she was named Australian of the Year and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.

During the 1970s, Goolagong won the women's singles title at the Australian Open four times.

She was also the runner-up at Wimbledon three times.

At the US Open, she lost in the final four consecutive years (1973-1976), never winning the title.

Goolagong's final Grand Slam title came at Wimbledon in 1980. By this time, she was a 29-year-old mother and surprised the tennis world by beating Tracy Austin in a semifinal and Chris Evert in the final, to win her second Wimbledon and seventh Grand Slam singles crown.
She was the first mother in 66 years to win the Wimbledon singles title, the previous one being English woman Dorothea Lambert-Chambers in 1914. She was the last mother to win a Grand Slam singles title until Kim Clijsters accomplished the feat by winning the 2009 U.S. Open.
(Source: Tennis UK)

The game of Tennis started in 16th century England.

The earliest strings were made from cow intestines ("natural gut"), a reliable string but very expensive.

Originally the tennis ball consisted of rough cloth strips tightly bound together. Eventually the cloth strips became the core, wrapped in twine and covered by a finer cloth or felt hand-stitched around it.

In 1972 the tennis ball was manufactured with the optic yellow felt. Now tennis balls are mass-produced for high performance at minimal costs.
(Source: Wikipedia)



bullet.gif (981 bytes)Connect Three

PrimaryPrimary, MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary 

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

Personal and social capabilityAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culturesAustralian Curriculum: Cross Curriculum Priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures


1. Evonne is a great Australian! Using Evonne as your stimulus material, you are to complete this "Connect Three" with a group of 3 - 4 students. As a group, you are to complete 3 squares (all in a row - horizontal, vertical or diagonal). Choose which group of three you will find most interesting and suits your skills. How did you work this choice out?

Create a picture gallery of Evonne from when she was a young tennis player until now. Write captions about each picture. You need to select at least 20 pictures.
Prepare a slide show on the four Grand Slams and the significance of Evonne's wins
Imagine you are Andrew Denton and create 10 interview questions to ask Evonne about her life and career in tennis
Write a short story about moving from a country town at the age of 14 to a big city to concentrate on a career. Describe the feelings of leaving home; starting at a new school and the loneliness sometimes.

Create a Haiku poem about Evonne. Create a mind map of Evonne's Tennis Career
Evonne has been working to encourage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to try tennis in Learn Earn Legend! program. You are to create a marketing video [1 min max] to encourage playing tennis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Compare and contrast Ashleigh Barty with Evonne Goolagong Cawley in wins and tennis style. Prepare a short (2 min) talk on her Grand Slam wins in Tennis

2. Share with another group of 3 - 4 students and provide them with feedback about what you have learnt about Evonne but also how to make a presentation, short story, marketing video, mindmap, poetry, or a compare and contrast.



bullet.gif (981 bytes)Online: Make a Quiz

PrimaryPrimary, MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary 

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culturesAustralian Curriculum: Cross Curriculum Priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures


1. In groups of 3 - 5 students, investigate Evonne Goolagong-Cawley's life using the information above - split up the information and use the Expert Jigsaw Strategy to compile the information.

2. What did you find interesting? What made Evonne an International and Australian champion?

3. Using ProProfs Quiz Maker, you are to make up a Quiz of 20 questions about Evonne Goolagong Cawley from what you have learnt as a group (divide up the questions within the group).  

ProProfs Quiz Maker [Free]


4. Get another group to try out your questions.



Life on the Job

Other Famous Australian Sportspersons:

Lionel Rose

Lionel Rose
Cathy Freeman

Cathy Freeman
Michael Milton

Michael Milton
Ashleigh Barty

Ash Barty



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