Barty hails Goolagong, and wants to inspire
TENNIS: Ashleigh Barty hopes her French Open triumph will inspire thousands of Australian children, including indigenous youngsters, to dream of grand slam success as she hailed Noosa resident Evonne Goolagong as a trailblazer.
Proud of her indigenous heritage, Barty was on centre court at Roland Garros with grand slam legend Rod Laver, while reflecting on 1971 French champion Goolagong's impact.
"Yeah, it's remarkable. Evonne sent me a text a couple days ago and said this was her first grand slam (victory)," Barty said. "I spotted her name on the trophy. I'll give her a call a little bit later on.
"It's amazing she's created this path for indigenous tennis in Australia and I think now it's becoming more nationwide.
"There are more opportunities for kids to start playing tennis, both male and female.
"Hopefully we can continue to create those opportunities and, you know, let kids know that this is an option for a career and they can enjoy it.
"And even if it's not, it's a sport they can play for life."
Goolagong, who has lived at Noosa for almost 30 years, won seven slam singles titles, including the French Open in her first attempt.
Tennis Australia supremo Craig Tiley said Barty's landmark victory can trigger a surge in interest at home.
"It certainly continues to lift it when you've got aspirational champions like Ash," he said.
"In the hearts and the minds of the young kids, they look at that and they say, 'This is what I can be and this is what I can be like.'
"So it sets a great platform, particularly for women's tennis but also for tennis generally.
"We're very excited about it.
"She's a beautiful personality and character. It shone through in all the matches.
"So when things got tight, she was able to step up and do what she needed to do.
"A magnificent match."
Barty said Laver told her he would shake her hand after she won the French.