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Goolagong Cawley honoured 50 years after first Open win

Melissa Woods -

Half a century after winning her first Australian Open title, Indigenous icon Evonne Goolagong Cawley has been honoured by tournament organisers.

Goolagong Cawley claimed four Open singles crowns, the first in 1974 when she overcame American Chris Evert in three sets at Kooyong Tennis Club.

The then 23-year-old had already made three consecutive finals, falling twice to Margaret Court (in 1971 and 1973) and once to Britain's Virginia Wade (in 1972).

Goolagong Cawley lifted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup a further three times - in 1975, 1976 and 1977, when she became the first mother in the Open era to win a grand slam title.

In a ceremony on Rod Laver Arena prior to the women's semi-finals on Thursday night it was announced that from next year the Open's annual celebration of First Nations culture during week one of the tournament will be known as Evonne Goolagong Cawley Day.

The Australian Tennis Foundation will host an annual fundraising breakfast named after the seven-time major singles champion, generating money towards Goolagong Cawley's drive to improve the lives of Indigenous children.

To celebrate 2024's milestone 50-year anniversary, Tennis Australia (TA) has donated $100,000 to deliver Indigenous programs and continue the former world No.1's work.

"We are delighted to honour Evonne here at the Australian Open, at Rod Laver Arena, 50 years after her first Australian Open win and before two blockbuster women's semi-finals," TA boss Craig Tiley said.

"Evonne exemplifies all that is good and great in our sport, both on and off the court.

"She's a shining example of humility and grace, and the dedication she's shown over so many years to helping others is an inspiration to us all.

"We look forward to building on Evonne's legacy and continuing her extraordinary work."

Goolagong Cawley had previously been celebrated with a bronze bust at Melbourne Park while she has been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

Melissa Woods - AAP

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