"If you can see it, you can be it." 48 years before Ash Barty, there was Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Five years ago, Ash Barty, who last night won the French Open, decided to quit tennis.

Then 18 and a junior Wimbledon champion, she was depressed and lonely.

She now remembers a text message she received from Evonne Goolagong Cawley – an Australian tennis great who had become a mentor.

“Hey, darl,” the message read.

“Good decision. Go and wet a line.”

For the next two years, Barty played cricket in the women’s Big Bash League, before eventually returning to tennis.

On Saturday night, Barty became the first Australian woman in 46 years to win the French Open, and the second First Nations woman in history.

The first was Goolagong Cawley herself, a Wiradjuri woman who won seven Grand Slam singles titles throughout her career. She is also the only mother to have won Wimbledon since 1914 – a title that still stands.

Goolagong Cawley said in a statement, “I’m almost scared to say it but it’s now 48 years ago since I won my first slam there too.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley Ash Barty
Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Ashleigh Barty at the Newcombe Medal Awards in 2010. Image: Getty.

"What a wonderful result for Australia and how exciting that another Aboriginal has won at the French Open. Tennis Australia and all lovers of tennis here and around the world will be delighted by the natural skills and flair Ash possesses."

Following her victory at Roland Garros, Barty said of Goolagong Cawley, "It's amazing how she's created this path for Indigenous tennis in Australia and I think now it's becoming more nationwide."

Barty was 12 when she learned that her great-grandmother was part of the Ngaragu people. Last year, she became a Tennis Australia Indigenous ambassador.

ABC Indigenous posted to Twitter last night, "If you can see it, you can be it!" referencing the legacy of Goolagong Cawley back in 1971.

48 years ago, Evonne Goolagong Cawley inspired a generation of young Aboriginal Australian girls and boys to pursue the sport of tennis when she won the French Open. Today, Ash Barty follows in her footsteps and inspires thousands more to chase their dreams.

"Ash, take a bow."

Last night was a win for Ash Barty.

But it was also a win for Australia's First Nations community.

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