There wasn't one particular player who inspired me. I'd say all Australians inspired me, because we had so many good players when I was growing up, even just from the state where I was, Queensland. You had Rod Laver and Roy Emerson. What I wanted to do was play on the circuit, which wasn't back then what it is now, of course. So I was inspired by every Australian, whether man or woman.
Certainly when Rod Laver or Roy Emerson were in town I'd go out and watch them play, and of course I admired the Australian women as well - Kerry Reid, Margaret Court. When Wimbledon was on you'd stay up 'til midnight to watch them play on a black-and-white TV screen, and most of the time it rained. But I just loved all the Australian players - seeing their results, watching them play, wanting to be where they were. And as it turned out, these people who inspired me ended up becoming my friends, and I ended up winning Wimbledon doubles with Kerry Reid.
When I was younger, I looked up to some of the Queensland players like Daphne Fancutt, Fay Muller and Madonna Schacht. Daphne and Fay reached the Wimbledon doubles final in 1956, and Daphne later became my coach and was definitely an important person to me. Our neighbours had a tennis court between our house and their house, and Daphne used to coach some kids on that court. I'd work out with Daphne after they finished - this was when I was in primary school, when I was 11, 12, 13. Her coaching style was about working with what you had to maximise your strengths. She treated everyone as an individual and focused on their own personal game. And Daphne definitely had the gift of the gab, so you were always listening to what she was saying. Growing up, I'd head over to Daphne before I went to work and she'd be strict about working out, but in such a positive way.
For a major part of my growing years Daphne was my important coach - and then I went to not having anyone except in Team Tennis when Marty Riessen helped me on the mental side of things. I remember him telling me: "You're playing so many close matches against all of the top girls - Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova. You just have to believe in yourself." He said later he didn't realise he had helped me so much! But it's about how much you want to take away from what people are telling you. Everybody has a different read on things.
Daphne never coached me on the circuit, but she would still play a funny role. At Wimbledon in 1982, I was having a tough match against Marcella Mesker on Court 6, and it was either near or in the second-set tiebreak. It was getting a little tense. I got up to net - and missed the ball. It ricocheted off my racquet into the crowd - and the person who stuck up their hand and caught it was Daphne! I mean, it was unbelievable. Of all the people sitting in the crowded stand, it was her. I just started laughing - and that relaxed me. I won the tiebreak and the match then!
I grew up in Queensland on antbed courts and I had to work in a bank in my late teens to save up the money to go on the circuit. But when I played, I didn't think, I have to make this money to keep going. I just tried to concentrate on winning that particular match. If you did that, everything else took care of itself. I would hear players saying, I need to win this match for my ranking and the money - I thought, gosh, they're worrying about so much. The only thing I want to do is win the match.
And I wasn't the only one from my background out there. Rod Laver came from Rockhampton, which is a small town in Queensland. Roy Emerson was from Blackbutt, which is definitely no-man's-land. I went out there when they dedicated a statue to him and trust me, it's in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful area and hot as hell in the summer. But I didn't think about other players and where they came from. I focused on what I wanted to do.
I've been self-sufficient like that from a young age. When you grow up in a family of seven children, you learn to take care of yourself. I knew from a young age that my parents wouldn't be able to give me money to travel overseas so I was always a saver. I just learned that independence growing up.
Nowadays, I love that Ash Barty has become another Queenslander to do well. Before her was Sam Stosur, and before her I guess me. I love the fact that Queenslanders are the ones holding up the flag - it's so great what Ash has done, and I hope that I've been an inspiration to her. We can't forget about Pat Rafter, too. I think the reason Queenslanders do so well is that we're allowed to stay with our coaches, and I think that's important because sometimes down in Melbourne or when they had the AIS in Canberra, everyone was being taught by the same coach. It was too much of the same thing and they didn't let the individuals come out. Probably Sam, Pat and Ash were allowed to become their own people and rely on their own strengths rather than being clones out there - just like I was with Daphne.
Ash was on a roll, and I hope she can carry on despite this interruption to the game. This is like something we've never experienced before. I think Ash will be fine - she's someone who's taken a break and come through better, so she's maybe got that experience that others don't.
Interview by Alex Macpherson.