• Former world No.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley with young tennis players Zac Scott, Corey Pollock and Keely Bishop. (AAP)Source: AAP
The sporting legend launches a new carnival designed to encourage young Aboriginal athletes to play tennis and possibly find Grand Slam success.
7 Sep 2018 - 10:00 AM  UPDATED 7 Sep 2018 - 10:22 AM

In the same week John Millman gave Australian tennis a boost by defeating Roger Federer, former world No.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley has opened the inaugural National Indigenous Tennis Carnival in Darwin.

Goolagong Cawley welcomed some of the 194 young people who have travelled from around Australia for the four-day event that aims to get more Indigenous youth playing tennis and possibly unearth a star.

She said she was also keen to support Indigenous youths as she had been supported by residents in rural Barellan in NSW when she was a child whose parents were both Wiradjuri people.

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Sports officials hope a new carnival will encourage young Aboriginal athletes from remote communities to pick up racquets and find Grand Slam success.

"I came from a family of eight and they saw how keen I was hitting against the wall every day and entered three of the Goolagongs in a coaching school," she told reporters.

"The townspeople said they would help raise funds for me, they gave me my suitcase, clothes, everything to go to Sydney because we couldn't afford anything.

"I am trying to do what the townspeople did for me."

Goolagong Cawley said after returning from living in America post-retirement she had been determined to get "as many Indigenous kids playing this wonderful game" as she could.

Millman's win would inspire the children along with Indigenous women's player and role model Ashleigh Barty, she said.

The 14-time grand slam champion said she was still learning more about her own Aboriginal culture after life as a professional tennis player living abroad.

Leading the way: Celebrating pioneering Indigenous sportswomen
From Evonne Goolagong Cawley to Cathy Freeman and Stacey Porter, Australia's Indigenous sportswomen have contributed greatly to Australia's sporting success.

Goolagong Cawley runs an annual "Goolagong National Development Camp" in Melbourne during the Australian Open, that places Aboriginal children in schools through tennis scholarships.

The Evonne Goolagong Cawley Medal of Excellence will be given to the participant in Darwin this week who displays excellence on-and-off court.

The best performers will be given the chance to represent Australia at International Tennis Federation Fiji Open in 2019.