Skip to main content

Joden Perry
NITV News

A picture for the ages after one of the great sporting performances.

Newly-crowned Australian Open champion Ash Barty standing alongside Evonne Goolagong-Cawley and Cathy Freeman. Excellence on display.

Barty was heroic in her straight-sets win over Danielle Collins. After blitzing through the first, she mounted a huge second set fightback from 5-1 down to force the American to a tiebreak, that Barty dominated. Game over.

But there was more to come.

The court announcer then introduced Wiradjuri woman Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, to Barty's surprise.

She had thought Goolagong-Cawley wasn't making the trip to Melbourne for the final, but she was there to present her friend with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup on centre court.

(Related: Ash Barty, Ngarigo woman, wins Australian Open)

The broadcast then cut to Kuku Yalanji and Birri Gubba woman and Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman in the crowd, who was capturing the moment on her phone.

The images led to an outpour of emotion on social media with Aboriginal identities articulating their power.

Kamilaroi man and Fox Sports presenter Jake Duke said "no one knows more about delivering for a whole nation than those two! Beyond that, what they symbolise to the Aboriginal community is immense! 3 deadly sisters."

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"It does not get any better than that," said Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal lawyer Taylah Gray.

Ash Barty of Australia celebrates after defeating Danielle Collins of the U.S., in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, in Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

The ABC's Indigenous Affairs Editor and Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta woman Bridget Brennan said "Evonne coming out has absolutely finished me," followed by the loudly crying emojis.

There's been plenty more sentiment and flooding of the 'Black Excellence' hashtag since.

World No.1 Barty was overjoyed that her idol was on hand to see the victory.

"Hell of a surprise," she said.

"To be honest, I'm really glad that I didn't know because I think I would have been under the pump, I would've been feeling it.

"I haven't seen her since this time last year so we've got a few more hugs to celebrate. Unbelievable to see her."

Barty was just four years old when Cathy Freeman won the 400m gold at the Sydney Olympics and famously donned the Aboriginal Flag in her victory lap.

"Looking up at the end, seeing Cathy, she is an inspiration. She's been an inspiration to so many people all around the globe," Barty said.

"But for our heritage, for our family, she is just the best. To be able to share that tonight with Evonne Goolagong and Cathy, a night I will never forget."

NITV Sunrise Ceremony 2021 - banner logo