“What a wonderful result for Australia and how exciting that another Aboriginal has won at the French”
Evonne Goolagong Cawley led the way as Australia hailed their new Grand Slam tennis champion Ashleigh Barty (pictured) yesterday after the proudly indigenous 23-year-old ended the country’s 46-year wait for a French Open women’s singles champion.
Margaret Court and Goolagong Cawley between them won four of the first six titles at Roland Garros after the dawn of the open era and the lack of Australian success since has reflected a wider decline of the women’s game Down Under.
That Barty’s victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Saturday was only the second for an Australian in a Grand Slam women’s final in the 39 years since Goolagong Cawley won her seventh major at Wimbledon made the outpouring all the more understandable.
Goolagong Cawley, Australia’s first indigenous global sports star, was Barty’s role model as a child and the 67-year-old said she was delighted not only at the breakthrough but also the style of game the Queenslander displayed in her win.
“What a wonderful result for Australia and how exciting that another Aboriginal has won at the French,” she said yesterday.
“Tennis Australia and all lovers of tennis here and around the world will be delighted by the natural skills and flair Ash possesses.
“Now they have developed into a beautiful game full of artistry, movement and power.
“It was there for all to marvel at in Paris.”
Court, a Christian minister whose record 24 Grand Slam singles titles spanned the end of the amateur and start of the professional era, said she was particularly delighted at Barty’s demeanour.
“She is a very good role model,” the 76-year-old said.
“She is good for our nation. I think she is very refreshing. I was always taught when I was young that I was a role model for the young, a role model for the game and a role model for our nation. I was taught that.
“It was always our nation first and I think it’s so sad to see some players in the men’s side with such great talent, thinking they are bigger than the game. It’s sad.”
Yesterday was a day of rejoicing rather than recriminations for most Australians, however, and 11-time major champion Rod Laver, Hewitt and Kyrgios were among a plethora of former Australian No 1s to post their congratulations.