Evonne Goolagong Cawley: A Living Legend of the Australian Open

Tennis Australia has announced that it will honour Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley at the 2024 Australian Open in January, marking the 50th anniversary of her first home Grand Slam singles title. It’s an opportune time to look back on her incredible singles career at Grand Slam tournaments.

The Australian Open

Evonne won 3 consecutive Australian Opens between 1974 and 1976, after finishing runner-up for 3 consecutive years between 1971 and 1973. She was the number 2 seed behind American Chris Evert in 1974 but broke through for her first home Grand Slam singles final win in 3 sets.

She returned in 1975 as the third seed and successfully defended her title by beating number 8 seed Martina Navratilova in straight sets in the final. Navratilova was 18 years old and still a Czech citizen at the time, but she had shown her immense potential by upsetting top seed Margaret Court in the quarter-finals.

Evonne Goolagong-Cawley at the 1981 Wimbledon Championships. (Photo by Tony Duffy/Getty Images)

In 1976, Evonne won her third straight Australian Open title as the top seed. She didn’t drop a set the entire way, including against the Czech fifth seed Renáta Tomanová in the final.

Evonne didn’t get the opportunity for a fourth consecutive Australian Open titles due to being pregnant when the 1977 tournament was held in January. However, a change in scheduling for the event saw another Australian Open tournament held in December that year when she was back playing.

Once again, she was the top seed and didn’t drop a set on the way to the fourth and final Australian Open of her career, beating 5 seed Helen Gourlay in the final.

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French Open

Evonne was only 19 years old when she entered the 1971 French Open as the third seed behind Margaret Court and England’s Virginia Wade.

The top two seeds were both bundled out early, but Evonne and another Aussie, unseeded 24-year-old Tasmanian giant killer Helen Gourlay, won their way through to the final where Evonne won in straight sets.

It was her first Grand Slam singles title, and she came close to defending it a year later, eventually going down to Billie Jean King in the final.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley with fellow Grand Slam champion Ash Barty after being presented with the ‘Spirit of Tennis’ Award in 2022. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)


Evonne was fresh off her singles victory at the French Open when she arrived at Wimbledon in 1971. Still only 19 and the number 3 seed behind top seed Margaret Court and American Billie Jean King, she won her way through to the final by beating King in straight sets in the semi-finals.

That victory put her into the final against Margaret Court, who had beaten her on grass in the Australian Open final earlier that year. But Evonne turned the tables, winning in straight sets.

After three runner-up performances in 1972, 1975 and 1976, Evonne broke through for her second Wimbledon singles title as a 28-year-old mother of a three-year-old daughter in 1980, beating top seed Chris Evert in the final.

She became the first mother to win the title since 1914, and to this day is still the last one to do it.

US Open

The US Open was the only Grand Slam singles title that eluded Evonne during her stellar career, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. She finished runner-up a heartbreaking 4 years in a row between 1973 and 1976, going down to fellow legends Margaret Court (1973), Billie Jean King (1974), and Chris Evert (1975 and 1976).