Australian legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley was presented with the ITF’s highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award, at the 2018 ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 5 June, in Paris at the Pavillon Cambon Capucines.
"I've always been taught to pay my respect to my elders, and I do that every day, but tonight I really want to pay my respects to all the past and present players," she said. "I'd like to congratulate all the young people who have got awards tonight - they are our future."
The World Champions Dinner celebrated the achievements of the 2017 ITF World Champions, including Garbiñe Muguruza, Latisha Chan and Martina Hingis, as well as Fed Cup champions the USA.
Mary Carillo hosted the evening, with ITF President David Haggerty presenting the awards to the World Champions, and the distinctive trophies once again being designed by internationally-recognised sculptor Laurence Broderick.
Goolagong Cawley received the Philippe Chatrier Award for her contributions to tennis in both her outstanding on-court career and dedicated public service after it.
She burst on to the international stage in 1971 when she won the singles titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon while still only 19. Lifting the trophy at the All England Club, where she defeated compatriot Margaret Court in the final, was the fulfilment of a childhood dream, and established her at the very top of the burgeoning women’s game.
A 16-year career saw Goolagong Cawley capture seven Grand Slam singles titles, six Grand Slam doubles titles and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title in all. After her early success in Paris and London she won the Australian Open four times between 1974 and 1977, and captured Wimbledon again in 1980. She was runner-up at the US Open in four consecutive years, 1973-76, rising to the No. 1 ranking in 1976. Representing her country, Goolagong Cawley was part of three of Australia’s Fed Cup-winning teams in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
After retiring in 1983 with 92 singles titles, Goolagong Cawley began to learn more about her Aboriginal heritage and, having spent time living in Florida, moved back to Australia in 1991 with her family. Since returning to her homeland, Goolagong Cawley has worked with Tennis Australia to increase female participation in tennis in Australia, and for more than two decades has acted in many capacities as an ambassador, advocate and role model for Indigenous Australians.
For the last 12 years she has run the Goolagong National Development Camp which uses tennis to promote better health, education and employment for young Indigenous people. In 2012, she became chairperson of the Evonne Goolagong Foundation and with federal government support set up the Dream, Believe, Learn, Achieve programme, giving more Indigenous children access to tennis through its ‘come and try’ days which run throughout Australia and provide a route for the best to attend state development camps.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “The ITF is delighted to recognise Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s exceptional achievements as a player and the lasting legacy she has left for so many people in the years since. Not only is she a legendary seven-time Grand Slam singles winner but she is also a champion of diversity, who has worked tirelessly in her home country to improve the lives of many through the sport we all love.”
Latisha Chan and Martina Hingis picked up their award to mark their incredibly successful 2017 - the only year in which they competed together.
"When I was eight years old, I wanted to be her opponent," Chan said of her partner. "I accomplished that before we played together. Last year we won a few titles together and that was a stunning year for me...She does magic to me. She can make her partner become the best version of that player."
"[Latisha] was already a great opponent when she played with her sister - and so instead of having her as an opponent, I broke them up and took one of the sisters for myself!" laughed Hingis. "I knew she had the power and the sense of the court. We made each other's game better. She was the one who made me believe I could win big tournaments again."