As a young girl, I always loved the outdoors, especially hitting around a tennis ball. At 13 I wanted to do more with my tennis than with the club championships.
After winning the State Underage Title, I listened intently to the encouraging words of famous Australian tennis champ, Frank Sedgeman. He said that he believed I could be the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon. His words gave me the goal I was searching for.
I achieved my goal when, in 1963, I defeated Billy Jean King to win the first of my three Wimbledon titles. It was wonderful to receive the winners trophy that day, especially following my first round disappointment of losing to the same opponent the previous year. I won again in 1965. Over this period, I achieved every goal I had set but then I lost my desire to continue competing at the top level.
I retired to Perth and married. Anxious to show my husband, Barry, life on the tennis court, I returned to play and soon regained the number one ranking. I now had a new goal to win the overall Grand Slam Title of the Australian, French, Wimbledon and United States Open Championship in the same year. This goal was achieved in 1970 and again I was the first Australian woman to hold this honor.
I praised God for this success, for I had always seen my tennis ability as a gift from God. However, in 1973, during a tournament in Paris, I realized that something was missing in my life - a closer relationship with God. I knew God was there and thought I must be able to know Him in a deeper way.
A short time later a friend gave me a book on becoming a Christian. I read it and soon after, I made the decision to become a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord of my life.
I continued to be successful on the tennis circuit but I wasn't happy. I needed to be closer to Jesus, and I believed that I couldn't do this by filling my life with tennis.
At the end of 1976, I decided to retire from tennis and devote myself to looking after my family and getting to know more of Jesus. The next few years were a real struggle for me dealing with a heart condition, depression and insomnia but what got me through was total devotion to God and His word, the Bible. It gave me inner strength and brought healing to my body and mind. A verse that really kept me going is Galatians 2:20, "I have died but Christ now lives in me. And now I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave His life for me."
In 1982, I went to Bible College and since then my goal has been to go out and share God's Word with as many people as possible. I love to tell them how they can renew their lives and how they can overcome fear by really focusing on the Word of God.