Evonne Goolagong 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).
Goolagong won seven Grand Slam singles titles in her career, reaching a total of eighteen Grand Slam singles finals. During the 1970s, she played in seventeen Grand Slam singles finals, a period record for any player; man or woman. Between 1973 and 1978, she reached the final of almost every Grand Slam singles event she entered. There was only one exception, Wimbledon, where she played in only two finals in that period, 1975 and 1976, losing both; she lost in 1973 to eventual champion Billie-Jean King in the semi-finals, in 1974 to Australian Kerry Melville at the quarter-final stage, and in 1978 to eventual champion Martina Navratilova in the semi-finals; she did not enter in 1977, the year her daughter was born. Also in 1974, Goolagong teamed up with Peggy Michel to win the Ladies’ Doubles title. She has won the Women’s Doubles Title at the Australian Open 5 times, and the French open once, as well as mixed doubles at the French Open once.
She is the only mother to have won the Wimbledon title since before World War I. Married to Roger Cawley in 1975, she had a daughter in 1977. She won the 1980 Wimbledon title.
Goolagong reached four consecutive U.S. Open finals, but lost them all. She is the only player in the open era of the event to have lost four consecutive finals, and the only woman to do so in U.S. championships history. Goolagong made seven consecutive finals at the Australian Open, winning four titles in a row, both records for the open era, although she did not compete in the January 1977 event. Despite reaching the final at her first two appearances in 1971 and 1972, after 1973 Goolagong did not compete at the French Open championships for a decade. She returned in 1983 for her final Grand Slam singles appearance. She lost in the last thirty-two to Chris Evert and did not compete in any further Grand Slam singles events. Her last appearance at Grand Slam level came at the following 1983 Wimbledon Championship when she partnered Sue Barker to a first round defeat in the doubles, having withdrawn from the singles event earlier.
The National Museum of Australia holds the Evonne Goolagong Cawley collection of memorabilia. This includes Evonne’s 1971 and 1980 Wimbledon singles trophies, the trophy from her 1974 doubles win, and two racquets used in these tournaments. The museum’s collection also includes a signed warm-up jacket, and a dress with a bolero style top, designed by Ted Tinling in the early 1970s.
Goolagong was ranked number one in the world for two weeks in 1976, though it was not reported at the time because incomplete data were used to calculate the rankings. This was discovered in December 2007, 31 years later. She was the 2nd woman to hold the top spot, the 16th recognized at the time.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Evonne Goolagong.