Retired tennis legend Ash Barty has shared an emotional tribute to her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
Cawley was honoured ahead of the women’s semi-finals on Thursday night with a special ceremony marking 50 years since her first Australian Open title in 1974.
And from next year’s tournament, the annual celebration of First Nations culture during week one will be known as Evonne Goolagong Cawley Day.
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Barty, who is a proud Ngarigo woman, and Cawley share a special relationship.
Not only are they close friends, but Cawley was a mentor for Barty during the latter’s tennis career.
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Cawley was also on hand to surprise Barty and present the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after Barty’s stunning 2022 Australian Open title.
Barty included a photo of that moment, as well as others of the pair.
Barty and Cawley remain super close friends. Credit: InstagramCawley presented Barty with the 2022 Australian Open tropy. Credit: Instgaram
“A friend, mentor, icon and absolute legend. What an incredible person you are, Evonne,” Barty wrote on Instagram.
“A special year celebrating the 50th anniversary of your first AO win, but an even greater appreciation and acknowledgement of your entire career with the renaming of a very special day — Evonne Goolagong Cawley Day.
“I cherish our relationship every single day. And I will always be your biggest fan.”
There was also a photo of the pair with Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman, as well as Barty’s son, Hayden.
The post was flooded with comments and likes, with many loving the final photo of three of Australia’s greatest ever athletes.
“What a line up of legends. That last photo is just beautiful! Look at all the pride in your faces. Proud, humble and grounded women,” one fan said.
“Three incredible women whom our country are so proud of,” another added.
“That is so well-deserved. What a lovely tribute. I just love these iconic women and the inspiration they have given us,” another said.
Barty and Cawley are the only two Australian women in the modern era to reach world No.1.
Cawley won 14 grand slam titles in her glittering career, while Barty won three before announcing her shock retirement from the sport in March 2022.
Barty has since married longtime partner Garry Kissick and the couple welcomed baby Hayden into the world last year.
The 27-year-old announced a return to the sporting arena earlier this week by confirming her spot in the New Zealand Open pro-am.
That came just after she launched the Ash Barty foundation.