Seeded third, she cut a swathe through the Roland-Garros field.
The top two seeds, Margaret Court and Virginia Wade, had fallen before the fourth round, opening her path to the final. Goolagong Cawley never conceded more than five games in a match on her charge to the decider, where unseeded compatriot Helen Gourlay awaited.
“Helen was always a tough player. She was a serve-and-volley player, she moved well, volleyed well, drop shots, she had the whole works,” she said. “Her coach was Vic Edwards also so she knew my game [and] gave me a bit of a tough time but, yeah, that was my first Grand Slam [singles title] so obviously that was a really big thrill for me and I felt fantastic.”
The No.3 seed prevailed 6-3, 7-5 to become the first woman since Althea Gibson of the US in 1956 to win Roland-Garros on debut.
She also became the first Indigenous Australian to capture a major and later that year was awarded the nation’s top honour as Australian of the Year.