Ash Barty will pay tribute to her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley at this year’s Wimbledon championship with a specially designed outfit.
The sartorial salute comes as Cawley and John Newcombe celebrate 50 years since completing one of Australia’s most iconic sporting doubles.
It’s been half a century since Goolagong Cawley and Newcombe both hoisted the Wimbledon singles trophies in a feat no Australian pair has managed since.
Fittingly, an inspired Barty will wear the same-style dress, specially designed by both players’ sponsor FILA, that Goolagong Cawley donned en route to the title at the All England Club back in 1971 when she lines up as women’s top seed for this year’s championships starting on Monday.
The outfit incorporates details inspired by the on-court look Goolagong Cawley sported back in the day.
The 25-year-old is only Australia’s second world No.1 since her Indigenous hero, friend and mentor Goolagong Cawley scaled the summit in 1976.
“It’s hard to put into words how much of an impact Evonne has had on the culture of tennis in Australia and on me personally. I don’t think there is anyone more iconic in our sport,” Barty said.
“I am very proud to wear this commemorative collection from Fila in celebration not only of her momentous victories on the court, but also her incredible legacy off of it.”
The tribute has touched the legendary serve-and-volleyer.
“Wow, it just blows my mind,” Goolagong Cawley said. “What a wonderful thing to do, what a wonderful honour. It’s truly fantastic.”
Then only 19, Goolagong Cawley clubbed defending champion Margaret Court 6-4 6-1 in that final to claim the first of her seven grand slam singles titles.
She returned to capture a second title as a mother in 1980, with Goolagong Cawley and three-time champion Court remaining all these years later the only two Australian women to win Wimbledon.
Barty is a slight favourite over Serena Williams to break the long drought this year.
Newcombe’s final triumph over American Stan Smith in 1971 was no less significant than Goolagong Cawley’s – just more dramatic.
“I’d played great throughout the tournament and beaten Ken Rosewall quite easily in the semi-finals, which was something special,” Newcombe said.
“I’d played a very good first set against Stan and was sort of on top in the second but couldn’t get the break.
“Then he managed to break me to win the second and then he went on to win the third set.
“I could see the way Stan was walking – he had a very cocky walk when he got on top of me. I could see he thought he was probably preparing for his Wimbledon victory speech.
“Anyway, I regrouped completely and the fourth set I led 5-0, 40-love on serve and I hadn’t lost a point on my serve all set.
“He got back to deuce on that game but I served it out and broke him halfway through the fifth.
“He was a tough guy to put away.”