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Barty, Goolagong-Cawley on hand to support Uluru Statement, Indigenous culture at Australian Open First Nations Day

Callan Morse -

Tennis Australia has put the Uluru Statement from the Heart at forefront of the Australian Open's First Nations Day.

In showcasing Indigenous culture to the world and reflecting on Indigenous tennis heroes, the Open put a spotlight on the conversation to formalise a lasting Voice for Indigenous people in Australia's constitution.

From the Heart campaign director Dean Parkin said the Australian Open presented an opportunity to both celebrate First Nations culture and promote the upcoming Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum.

"Kicking off the year with the support of Tennis Australia shows the momentum building for the upcoming referendum on Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament," Parkin said.

"Millions of people are watching the tournament around the world and today's First Nations Day celebrates Indigenous culture and history as an intrinsic part of the Australian identity in what will be an important year.

"We're taking the campaign supporting Indigenous constitutional recognition to the world stage, and reflecting on how we can appropriately acknowledge and celebrate the longest continuous culture both on the tennis court and in our constitution."

Barty pictured with Australian Open Ballkid squad members. Image: Kim Landy/Getty Images.

Both former world number one Ash Barty and multi-grand slam winning Indigenous champion Evonne Goolagong-Cawley were on hand at Melbourne Park as part of First Nations round festivities.

The on-court reunion came after Goolagong-Cawley, a four time Australian Open winner, presented Barty with the Australian Open title last year.

Parkin said Barty and Goolagong-Cawley's involvement in supporting a push for constitutional recognition of Australia's Indigenous peoples was significant for the campaign.

"Indigenous Australians have a long and successful history of representing Australia in tennis, including seven-time Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley and three-time Grand Slam champion, Ash Barty," he said.

"Being able to walk side by side with such legends as Evonne and Ash on this journey for a constitutional recognition is huge for our campaign."

After hitting with the First Nations ball-kid squad, Barty said she was glad to have returned to Melbourne Park following her 2022 Australian Open victory.

Evonne Goolagong-Cawley presented Ash Barty with the championship trophy at last year's Australian Open. Image: TPN/Getty Images.

"It's so nice to be back here again," she said.

"A day like today brings people together and I am happy to be here back on court hitting with yellow balls.

"It is few and far between these days."

Barty has stayed involved in the game since retiring from professional tennis, mentoring rising Queensland prodigy Olivia Gadecki.

The 20-year-old won her first round match after defeating Russia's Polina Kudermetova 7-5, 6-1 before bowing out of the tournament in a straight sets loss to Ukranian Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-1 yesterday.

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