Barty hopes her dress inspires indigenous Australians on Cawley’s 50th anniversary
Ashleigh Barty will wear a special dress when she plays on Centre Court on Tuesday in tribute to her fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley 50 years after she won her first Wimbledon title.
Barty said she hoped her dress will have a similar impact on the “next generation of indigenous youth” as Cawley’s had had on hers.
“It’s a really special anniversary for a lot of Australians, but for indigenous Australians in particular,” said Barty of the 50th anniversary of Cawley’s triumph.
“I think this is a really special one. For me to be able to wear an outfit inspired by Evonne’s iconic scallop dress is really amazing.
“I wanted to make sure she was okay with it.
“Before we had put in the process of creating my version of her iconic dress, I wanted to make sure she was okay. Called her and asked her.
“She was really excited.”
Barty — the world number one — has emulated Cawley in winning the French Open (2019) but her record at Wimbledon has not yielded terrific results thus far.
However, she says Cawley is such an inspiring person her achievements makes people feel they too can turn their dreams into reality.
“Evonne has guided the way,” said the 25-year-old at her pre-tournament press conference on Saturday.
“She’s created a path for all of us as Australians, but as a family and for our heritage to know that there is an opportunity to chase after your dreams and to do what you love.
“She’s created a legacy like no other in Australia.”
Barty said being close to the now 69-year-old Cawley — who added a second Wimbledon title in 1980 — made it all the more special.
“I think I’m exceptionally proud to be able to call her a friend and a mentor, to be able to share heritage,” said Barty.
“For me to be able to pay tribute to that on a really special anniversary is something that I’ll never forget.
“I know not only myself but my team, my family, and Evonne and her family are really excited for the outfit, as well.”
– ‘Tremendous character’ –
Barty opens on Centre Court on Tuesday after defending women’s champion Simona Halep withdrew on Friday having failed to recover from a calf injury.
It will be a match filled with emotion.
Aside from the emotions Barty will be feeling due to the dress and Cawley’s anniversary her opponent Carla Suarez Navarro has returned to the circuit after battling cancer.
The 32-year-old former top 10 player retired last year and was diagnosed with early-stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma but announced in April she’d been cured after treatment.
“It’s incredible to have Carla back,” said Barty.
“When she came back on tour, it was just a sense of excitement from everyone.
“To know that she’s got this tremendous character of resilience and strength.
“I think for me to be able to experience opening Centre Court on Tuesday with her is going to be really cool.
“She’s been one of the best for a long time.
“Just to see her back here doing what she loves has brought a smile to not only my face but all the other players, the teams.”
Barty said she felt “extremely humbled to have the privlege and the honour” to open on Centre Court but felt for Halep.
“It’s an opportunity very few people get to experience,” she said.
“Of course, I wish Sim (Halep) was here to be able to experience that.
“She’s earned the right to open the court, open Centre Court on Tuesday as the defending women’s champion.”