Cathy Freeman and Evonne Goolagong/ Strong Aboriginal women in sports in Australia and their massive influence in making headway for all Aboriginals in Australia.

Essay by Luke Foster

“I have time to breathe, time to be myself more often, I am a lot more relaxed and less guarded.” Cathy Freeman

Cathy Freeman sporting achievements in running:

  • Commonwealth Games Gold 1990.
  • 2 x 400m World Champion.
  • Gold medal in 400m 2000 Olympics.
  • Silver Medal in 400m in 1996 Olympics.
  • Three-time Olympian.
  • Lit the Cauldron at 2000 Olympics.

Evonne Goolagong sporting achievements in tennis:

“Evonne’s career was remarkable by any measure – her list of superlatives includes being the first Indigenous Australian to win a singles grand slam and the first mother to win a major title in the modern era. She also ranks number two (after Margaret Court) for most grand slam titles by an Australian woman.” Google search

Both were named Australians of the year.

“I like looking feminine and I enjoy being a role model. I enjoy being a woman. It all comes down to having the confidence to be who you are.”

Cathy Freeman

 It’s a complex issue as Evonne has said that she would rather be known as a good tennis player rather than an Aboriginal who was good at tennis.

“I’d much rather people knew me as a good tennis player than as an aboriginal who happens to play good tennis. Of course, I’m proud of my race, but I don’t want to be thinking about it all the time.”

Evonne Goolagong Cawley

I feel sport as the great leveller for people of all races in the world rather than through the arts or politics as it’s the people’s passion from all levels of wealth and nationality as well.

Also, in the arts and politics it is usually the domain of the elder while in sports a person can be a success from early teen years through to their thirty’s.

“Some players feel that winning is everything and that losing is a disaster. Not me. I want the spectators to take home a good memory.”

Evonne Goolagong Cawley

I remember vividly Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron flame at the opening of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

“You got to try and reach for the stars or try and achieve the unreachable.”

Cathy Freeman

My mother was a primary school teacher and came from Orange a country town and she loved playing tennis as for the first decade of teaching she moved around rural New South Wales for work and found tennis was a great way to stay fit and to socialise at the tennis clubs and meet new people.

Some of my earliest memories were playing court side at a north Avalon tennis court on Sydney’s northern beaches while mum and her friends played tennis. I remember the court was orange clay.

Mum got me into tennis too as a teenager and I did a tennis camp and won a racket for most improved. I went back to tennis up at Casuarina ten years ago and played mostly with mums in lessons which was fun until the surf school next door took over the courts to make more accommodation. I guess that’s great for the surf school as they are producing the next level of competitive Australian champion surfers.

Anyway, I’ve got way off track of famous Australian women in tennis and running but I just wanted to illustrate how social, fun, and healthy sport is.

Cathy Freeman

Evonne Goolagong Cawley