At Wimbledon, Ashleigh Barty pays tribute to an ancestor

WIMBLEDON, England – As seed Ashleigh Barty looked forward to Wimbledon this year, she also looked back half a century. To another native Australian woman. To a revolutionary title at Wimbledon. And, finally, to a hem.

Barty knew she wanted to pay tribute to Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who 50 years ago became the first native Australian woman to win a Wimbledon title.

“Evonne led the way,” said Barty, 25. “She created a legacy like no other in Australia.”

Barty, who traces her native Australian ancestry back to the Ngarigo people on her father’s side, said she first met Goolagong Cawley when she was 13 or 14 and was already considered something of a of prodigy. At 15, she won the Wimbledon junior title in 2011, and two years ago, she won her first major title, at Roland Garros. She and Goolagong Cawley, who belongs to the Wiradjuri people, have remained in close contact.

“I think she was able to share her knowledge with me from a young age,” Barty said last month in Paris, adding: “I am forever grateful to her for opening up to me and being extremely generous with her time and knowledge and thoughts. “

Barty, who is aiming for her first Wimbledon title, beat Russia’s Anna Blinkova, 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday and will face Czech Katerina Siniakova in the third round on Saturday.

Ahead of the tournament, Barty approached his clothing sponsor, Fila, with a suggestion to recreate elements of the outfit Goolagong Cawley wore in his maiden triumph at Wimbledon. Goolagong Cawley’s white dress had buttons all the way down the front and, most notably, a scalloped hem.

“We took that element, we took some beautiful flower stitching on another dress that Evonne loved, and we took inspiration from all of that and designed a few different outfits for Ash,” said Lauren Mallon, senior manager of the Fila tennis marketing. . “We also kept in mind what Ash likes to wear; it’s really important to us as a brand that is comfortable, functional and beautiful for all of our athletes. “

Barty, who prefers not to wear dresses in the field, was given a tank top and skort with similar elements. There have been other updates: While the flowers that appeared on some of Goolagong Cawley’s outfits were embroidered with colorful threads, those on Barty’s dress were laser cut into the fabric.

Barty said in her pre-tournament press conference that she asked for Goolagong Cawley’s blessing before going ahead with the plan; Goolagong Cawley enthusiastically gave it away.

“It made me feel a lot more comfortable,” Barty said. “Knowing her favorite dress, probably her most iconic dress, is something that has inspired me and inspired our generation of Indigenous youth, I hope my version, my outfit, can do the same for the next generation of Indigenous youth. to come up. “

In a press release from Tennis Australia, Goolagong Cawley said the tribute “takes my breath away. What a wonderful thing to do, what a wonderful honor”.

Although Goolagong Cawley was sponsored by Fila later in her playing career, the outfits that inspired Barty’s were made by Ted Tinling, a former player turned designer whose designs defined this era of tennis fashion.

Tinling, a Briton who was posthumously honored by the Lawn Tennis Association last month as a leading LGBTQ figure in the history of the sport, has used professional female tennis players as muses at a time when the female game was just beginning to find its place as a professional sport.

In his 1983 memoir, “Tinling: Sixty Years of Tennis,” Tinling described Goolagong Cawley as one of his most confusing clients to properly capture.

“I felt like I was grappling with a ghost, trying to capture the essence of his elusive personality in order to interpret it in his dresses,” Tinling wrote. “The real answer is that the beauty of Evonne lies in the exquisite grace of her movements. When she is still, it seems impossible to capture her true identity. Yet this spontaneity of “nature’s elf” is the heart and soul of Evonne’s fascination. “

Tinling went on to make one of his most unusual creations, inspired by the indigenous heritage of Goolagong Cawley. Hearing that the word “goolagong” meant “tall trees by calm water,” Tinling created an embroidered landscape of gum trees beside a stream for one of the dresses that Goolagong Cawley wore most often in the early centuries. 1970s.

“The detail, the beauty: you can spot a Ted Tinling dress,” Mallon said. “We love what he did in the ’60s and’ 70s, really giving each player their own gorgeous look to wear on the pitch.”

Two of Goolagong Cawley’s dresses are now part of a collection at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, as are his two singles trophies at Wimbledon – his 1971 victory over Margaret Court in the final and Chris Evert’s loss in 1980.

In a video produced by Wimbledon for the anniversary of Goolagong Cawley’s breakthrough in 1971, Barty did the storytelling and described Goolagong Cawley’s roots in the rural town of Barellan as “perhaps the most humble origins of the world. ‘history of the Grand Slam’.

In a recent interview, Goolagong Cawley, who will turn 70 at the end of the month, said that as she grew up she feared being forcibly removed from her family by the government, as Indigenous Australian children have often gone through a great deal. part of the 20th century. .

“Whenever a shiny car came down the road, my mother used to say, ‘You better run and hide: the welfare man will take you away,’ Goolagong Cawley recalls. “So I remember hiding very nervously under the bed because I didn’t want to be taken away.”

“I think that’s why losing a game never really bothered me: I just felt I was very lucky to be there in the first place to enjoy this wonderful game.”

Barty, who has worked actively with young Indigenous Australians, including through Indigenous tennis programs in Queensland, said Goolagong Cawley’s effect on his own life and career has been considerable.

“Evonne realized her tennis dream long before I was born, but her legacy is an inspiration to me both on and off the court,” Barty said in the anniversary video.As a proud Ngarigo woman, I cherish our common heritage and am honored to follow in her footsteps. “

Add a Comment