Skip to Content
Department of Premier and Cabinet

Helen Gourlay (Cawley)

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Helen Gourlay (Cawley)

Awarded for service to Sport and Recreation

Born: 1946

Entered on roll: 2013


A cheerful competitor throughout her international career.

Five-time tennis Grand Slam Champion, Helen Gourlay was born in Launceston on 23 December 1946, and is the most internationally successful tennis player Tasmania has ever produced.

Helen's tennis potential was evident from a young age. According to her mother she could hit the ball over the net at just two years of age.

Helen became the first Tasmanian to represent Australia in tennis.  In 1972 and 1975 she captained the Australian Federation Cup Team, and was a member of the Australia v USA Bonne Belle Cup Team.  In 1972, Helen also won, with Evonne Goolagong, the South African Open and the British Hard Court Open Doubles Championships.

The highest profile victory for Helen was her 1977 Ladies' Doubles win at the championships at Wimbledon (with JoAnne Russell). In the first round they defeated No. 2 seeds, Chris Evert and Rosie Casals.  In the final they defeated the No. 1 seeds, Martina Navratilova and Betty Stove: 6-3, 6-3. Helen was also runner-up in the Ladies' Doubles at Wimbledon in 1974.

By 1977, Helen had won the Australian Open Doubles four times with: Kerry Harris (1972); Evonne Goolagong (1976 and December 1977); and Diane Fromholz (January 1977).

Helen was runner-up in two Grand Slam singles finals: the 1971 French Open and the 1977 Australian Open.

Helen's highest World Ranking was No. 12 in 1971.

After 13 years on the International Circuit, Wimbledon 1978 was Helen's final event. She returned to Launceston and her daughter was born later that year.

At the inception of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in 1981, Helen took up the appointment to set up the Tennis Program and has coached and professionally supported successive generations of promising Australian tennis players.

Helen was inducted into the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame in 1987 and awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

 Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women