Heather McKay AO MBE

Heather McKay is regarded as the best female squash player of all time.

Honour Roll

Heather was born on 31 July, 1941, at Queanbeyan, near Canberra. She was the eighth child in a family of eleven children. Her parents were sporty and encouraged their children to play tennis.

She attended Queanbeyan High School where her sporting prowess was noticed and she was chosen to play hockey for Australia as a schoolgirl. She began playing squash in 1959 to keep fit for hockey. She was chosen to play hockey for Australia in 1967, 1969 and 1971, however there was no international competition at that time so she did not actually play.

Throughout her squash career, she continued to play hockey. Once Heather began competing she rarely lost. After playing socially for a few months she was encouraged to play in a New South Wales country championship where she won the women's and the junior's. She was spotted playing by the past president of the Australian Squash Association who encouraged her to enter the State championships.

When she first played for the Australian title in 1960, she had only been playing for five months. She won the title in that first year, a title she retained until 1973. From 1962-76, she won the British Open championship, effectively the world titles, every year. This remarkable achievement of sixteen successive titles is unlikely to ever be matched. In fact, through that period she did not ever lose a match.

Commentators were lost for superlatives to describe her, but she is universally regarded as the best female squash player of all time for her style and sheer dominance of the sport. She trained against men. In 1967, she was voted ABC Sportsman (sic) of the Year.

The only disappointment was the pitiful prize money available in the sport, forcing her to leave the country and coach in Canada in 1975. She turned professional that year and won the inaugural women's world open title in 1976 and then again when she competed in 1979 at nearly 40 years of age. She then turned to racquetball, taking out the United States professional title in 1980, 1981 and 1984. She returned home to Australia in 1985 to coach at the Australian Institute of Sport. In 1978, she published Heather McKay's Complete Book of Squash. In 1979, she was awarded a MBE.

Despite her dominance of the sport, her achievements rarely attracted media attention and many people have not even heard of her.