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Heather McKay
, 1980

by Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.3 cm)

Heather McKay AO MBE (b.1941), squash champion, dominated the game worldwide for sixteen years and was the first to be inducted into the Women’s International Squash Players Association Hall of Fame. Selected to play hockey for Australia as a Queanbeyan schoolgirl, she took up squash at 17 to maintain her fitness. In 1960, the year after she first played squash, she won the first of her fourteen Australian Amateur Championships; from 1961 to 1973 she also won the NSW Championships and the Victorian Championships. From 1967 to 1971 she was also a member of the Australian Women’s Hockey Team. Beaten only twice at squash in her entire career, she won the British Open titles every year from 1962 to 1977. She turned professional in January 1976, winning the inaugural Women’s World Open Squash Championship in 1976 before moving to Toronto to coach. While this move barred her from defending her British Open Title, she managed to win the Women’s World Open Squash Championships and the US Amateur Women’s Racquetball titles in 1979. In 1980-81 and 1983-84 she was the USA Women’s Professional Racquetball Champion. On her return to Australia in 1985 she helped to create the Australian Institute of Sport squash unit. In 2001 she won the ITF World Veterans’ Championship in the 60-64 age group. McKay is a serious contender for the title of Australia’s greatest-ever sportswoman.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2004
Accession number: 2004.38