Monday, February 9, 2009

A lovely piece on the great Evonne Goolagong

Evonne Goolagong is one of my two favorite female tennis players of all time. Every generation produces one player of extraordinary grace, and Goolagong was that player for her generation. Steve Flink of Tennis Channel interviews Goolagong and writes about her. As he recalls, hers was one of the great one-handed backhands of the tour's history. Goolagong, like Evert and some other players of that time, did not attend all four of the majors every year. Had she done so, she would doubtless have more than seven majors to her record. But probably not the U.S. Open: Goolagong was the finalist at the Open four years in a row, and then finally gave up and retired.

The story Flink tells about Goolagong's match against Mona Schallau is wonderful, and it is pure Evonne Goolagong. The little Aboriginal girl who stood outside the fence and watched people play tennis--the child who was given a racquet by Bill Kurtzman when he saw her peering through that fence, and who was then allowed to play, despite her race--became one of the greatest tennis players of all time. The tour's "Sunshine Supergirl," who had to endure both racism and sexism in her career, now works with indigenous children in her Goolagong Development Camp. Lucky kids.

1 comment:

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