Full Circle Joy for Indigenous Australians

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday July 12, 2021

On Saturday at Wimbledon Ashleigh Barty completed the circle that connects her and legendary Evonne Goolagong. As the first Australian woman to win a Wimbledon single title since 1980, and doing so on the 50th anniversary of Goolagong’s maiden Wimbledon title—in a dress that paid triubute to the Hall of Famer, no less—Barty completes a run that was poetic in so many ways.

Tennis Express

After she raised the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time on Centre Court, Barty said: “I hope I made Evonne proud.”

She did.

“Oh she certainly did,” the former world No 1 said, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Goolagong, who has known and mentored Barty ever since she was a teenager, told the story of first recognizing how talented she was.

“She made me proud from the first time I saw Ash. She must have been about 13. She was playing at the Australian Open and [my husband] Roger and I stayed and watched for a bit and we saw one whole point where she showed all the skills.

“She did the slice, the volley, the smash. Everything in one game and we both just looked at each other and thought ‘oh, she’s got it, she’s going to be our next champion’. So look at her now.”

Barty (Ngarigo descent) and Goolagong (Wiradjuri descent) are both indigenous Australians, something that connects them even deeper and makes the story of her success at Wimbledon more compelling.

After the tournament Barty, one of the most down-to-earth, humble athletes one could ever come across, talked about the importance of being a good human first and a good athlete second.

“I think I’ve just tried to live by my values that my parents instilled in me,” she said. “I mean, it’s more important to be a good person than it is a good tennis player. So I think that’s always my priority, is making sure that I’m a good human being. Being able to learn from my parents and my siblings, my family, was a massive part of my upbringing.

“I was just extremely lucky that I was able to have an opportunity to learn how to play the game of tennis. But I think being a good human being is absolutely my priority every single day.”

Goolagong, a former No.1 and seven-time major singles champion who hails from New South Wales, says that Barty’s legend is growing back home, even as she has not been back on home soil since leaving for Miami in March.

“She’s a great Australian. Everybody loves her,” Goolagong said. “Every time I go out shopping everybody asks me about Ash. How’s Ash going? Isn’t she wonderful? Yes she is. Ash to me is like a little sister and part of my family. So I think we treat each other that way.”

And the fact that they are playing—and succeeding—as indigenous Australians makes their bond even stronger. Barty’s title was won while Australia celebrated Naidoc Week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) from July 4-11.

“We’re both very proud,” Goolagong said. “I’m a Wiradjuri woman from New South Wales, and she’s a very proud Aboriginal also, and so what a way to celebrate, not just my 50 years since I won there, but it was Naidoc week and it was very important.”

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