DARWIN, Australia - Former Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley has helped launch the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival in Darwin.
The Australian, who turns 68 at the end of July, visited the city to mark the launch of the 2019 National Indigenous Tennis Carnival. This will be the second edition of the event, a four-day celebration of tennis and culture, which proved highly successful last year and will return between August 29 and September 1.
"Last year it was incredible to see this amazing event, which I believe was the most significant gathering of indigenous tennis players ever in our country," the 14-time Grand Slam champion said. "It was wonderful to see kids of all ages enjoying the sport I love so much – whether discovering it for the first time, or having the opportunity to develop and improve their skills.
"It’s a dream come true to be part of this, and to see how tennis can have such a positive impact on communities, and do so much good. The celebration of culture, improving the health and wellbeing of everyone involved and promoting education are all so important to me. I can’t wait to come to the event again this year."
The creation of a new mural at the carnival was also announced, designed to celebrate Indigenous tennis and culture. Painted by a group of local artists, including David Collins, Indigenous artists Shaun Lee ‘Hafleg’ and Jesse Bell, the artwork will feature Goolagong Cawley alongside current world No.1 and French Open champion - and Indigenous Tennis Ambassador - Ashleigh Barty.
Goolagong Cawley, who has Wiradjuri descent, and Barty, of Ngarigo heritage, are the only Australian women to reach world No.1 in singles in the modern era. It is hoped that the rise of Aboriginal player Barty will inspire more Indigenous youth to pick up a racquet.
"I’m so proud we’ve been able to bring Indigenous players from across the country together," Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka said. "The Carnival is pivotal to the growth of our Indigenous tennis pathway and a vital part of building and promoting tennis to all Australian communities.
"We're incredibly fortunate to have wonderful role models such as Evonne and now Ash Barty. I'm sure we'll see more players being inspired by these two brilliant ambassadors. They are both inspirational women to our Indigenous communities.
Indigenous Programs Manager Joe Kelly added: "The NITC is a vital event for the Indigenous tennis in the NT and around the country, and we are very proud to be able to host this event in Darwin.
"Tennis has definitely grown in the NT in awareness and we are starting to see higher engagement with tennis around the Territory and different communities."
The carnival will take place at Darwin International Tennis Centre, with a range of cultural activities on offer. Aboriginal performers Djuki Mala will take to the stage for a community concert on August 30. Tickets are available via Eventbrite, with under 12s free.