WTA legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley was awarded Australia's highest honor on Friday in appreciation of her work in the game.

The 66-year-old was made a Companion in the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours List. Goolagong Cawley lifted the Australian Open singles title in four consecutive years between 1974 and 1977, along with five Melbourne doubles crowns. She also won Wimbledon twice and the French Open once, as well as a Wimbledon doubles title, in 1974.

The honor - which Goolagong Cawley was presented with by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, at the Rod Laver Arena prior to Saturday's women's singles final - comes in recognition of her services to the sport and her work as a role model and advocate for young Indigenous Australians.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley, pictured with Rennae Stubbs and Evie Dominikovic in 2002, has also served as Federation Cup captain for Australia (Getty)

"Helped by the townspeople of Barellan, New South Wales, I learned to love the sport of tennis," she said. "After I was fortunate enough to achieve my dreams on the court, I have done my best to, in turn, help young people achieve theirs. I have received so much support from family, friends and many other people from around the world for which I will always be grateful.

"To be considered for any award, let alone this one, is a humbling experience, for all I have done in my life is to try hard at the things that I loved doing. I am so grateful and happy. All I can do now is to promise everyone that I will continue to do my best."

Goolagong Cawley was ranked World No.1 in both 1971 and 1976, winning 92 professional tournaments including those 14 Grand Slam titles. She became the first mother in 66 years to win the Wimbledon singles title, in 1980, and became a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame eight years later. 

In retirement she has aided Aboriginal girls and boys as chairperson of her Evonne Goolagong Foundation, which uses the sport to promote the values of health, employment and education to Indigenous youngsters. She has also received honorary doctorates from four Australian Universities, is an Honorary Fellow of Monash University, and, in 1972 was appointed an MBE.