Heather McKay

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Heather McKay
Full nameHeather Pamela McKay
Country Australia
Born (1941-07-31) 31 July 1941 (age 77)
Queanbeyan, New South Wales
Women's Singles
Highest ranking1
World OpenW (1976, 1979)
Last updated on: 20 December 2011.

Heather Pamela McKay (née Blundell) AO, MBE (born 31 July 1941) is a retired Australian squash player, who is considered by many to be the greatest female player in the history of the game,[1] and possibly also Australia's greatest-ever sportswoman. She dominated the women's squash game in the 1960s and 1970s, winning 16 consecutive British Open titles from 1962 to 1977, and capturing the inaugural women's World Open title in 1976, while remaining undefeated during that period. She was also a top-level player of other sports, including field hockey and racquetball.


Heather Blundell was born in Queanbeyan, New South Wales. As Heather McKay,[2] she completely dominated the sport of women's squash in the 1960s and '70s. She lost only two matches in her entire career (in 1960 and 1962), and was unbeaten in competitive squash matches from 1962 through to 1981, when she retired from active open squash. Her first defeat was in the quarterfinal of the New South Wales Championship in 1960 losing to Yvonne West and her second defeat was in the final of the Scottish Open in 1962 losing in straight games to Fran Marshall.[3][4]

McKay won her first British Open (considered to be the effective world championship of the sport at the time) in 1962. She then won it again every year for the next 15 consecutive years, losing only two games at the championship during that time. She usually won her finals matches comfortably. In the 1968 championship, she won the final against her compatriot Bev Johnson without dropping a point.

In 1976, an unofficial world championship known as the Women's World Squash Championship was held in Brisbane, which McKay won by defeating Marion Jackman in the final 9–2, 9–2, 9–0. The first official women's World Open was held in 1979 in England, and McKay captured the inaugural title with a 6–9, 9–3, 9–1, 9–4 win over Sue Cogswell in the final.

McKay also won the Australian Amateur Championships for 14 consecutive times from 1960 to 1973.

When she retired in 1981 at the age of 40, McKay had gone nearly 20 years undefeated. Since retiring from the top-level game, she has remained active in international Masters level events, and has won two over-45 world championship titles and two over-50 world championship titles.

Heather also proved to be a talent in other sports, including field hockey, where she was a member of the Australian Women's Hockey Team in 1967 and 1971. In racquetball, she won the American Amateur Racquetball Championship once (1979), the American Professional Racquetball Championship three times (1980–81 and 1984), and the Canadian Racquetball Championship five times (1980 and 1982–85).[5] She was inducted into the USA Racquetball Hall of Fame in 1997.[6]

She was a teaching professional at the Toronto Squash Club in the 80s. She worked with up and comer David Wright in an intensive Junior Program.

World Open[edit]

Finals: 2 (2 titles, 0 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Location Opponent in the final Score in the final
Winner 1976 Brisbane, Australia Australia Marion Jackman 9–2, 9–2, 9–0
Winner 1979 Sheffield, England England Sue Cogswell 6–9, 9–3, 9–1, 9–4

British Open[edit]

Finals: 16 (16 titles, 0 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Location Opponent in the final Score in the final
Winner 1962 The Royal Automobile Club – London England Fran Marshall 9–6, 9–5, 9–4
Winner 1963 Landsdowne and Royal Aero Clubs England Fran Marshall 9–4, 9–2, 9–6
Winner 1964 Landsdowne and Royal Aero Clubs England Fran Marshall 9–2, 9–2, 9–1
Winner 1965 Landsdowne and Royal Aero Clubs England Anna Craven-Smith 9–0, 9–1, 9–2
Winner 1966 Landsdowne and Royal Aero Clubs England Anna Craven-Smith 9–0, 9–0, 10–8
Winner 1967 London, England England Anna Craven-Smith 9–1, 10–8, 9–6
Winner 1968 London, England Australia Bev Johnson 9–0, 9–0, 9–0
Winner 1969 Sheffield, England England Fran Marshall 9–2, 9–0, 9–0
Winner 1970 Birmingham, England South Africa Marcia Roche 9–1, 9–1, 9–0
Winner 1971 Birmingham, England England Jenny Irving 9–0, 9–3, 9–1
Winner 1972 Sheffield, England South Africa Kathy Malan 9–1, 9–1, 9–2
Winner 1973 Sheffield, England New Zealand C. Fleming 9–1, 9–0, 9–1
Winner 1974 Sheffield, England England Sue Cogswell 9–2, 9–1, 9–2
Winner 1975 Wembley, England Australia Marion Jackman 9–3, 9–1, 9–5
Winner 1976 Wembley, England Australia Sue Newmann 9–2, 9–4, 9–2
Winner 1977 Wembley, England Australia Barbara Wall 9–3, 9–1, 9–2

Note: Competed as Heather Blundell from 1962 to 1965.

After retirement[edit]

McKay wrote a book, Heather McKay's Complete Book of Squash, which was released in 1979. Staying active in squash, she was named coach of the Australian Institute of Sport's Squash Division in 1985. In 1999 she was one of the founder members of the Women's International Squash Players Association Hall of Fame, of which she herself was one of the first to be inducted.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kaplan, Jim. "McKay has a new racquet". SI Vault. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  2. ^ Marriages: McKay—Blundell, The Canberra Times, (Wednesday, 15 December 1965), p.32.
  3. ^ Meares, Peter (2003). Legends of Australian Sport: The Inside Story. University of Queensland Press. p. 160.
  4. ^ "Australian Women's Register". National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Canadian National Championships". Racquetball Canada. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  6. ^ "USA Racquetball". Team USA. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "Heather McKay". It's an Honour. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Heather McKay". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Hall of Fame members". Squash Australia. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Australia Day Honours 2018: The full list". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2018-01-29.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Lynn Adams
No. 1 Women's Pro Racquetball Player
1982–83 to 1983–84
Succeeded by
Lynn Adams
Lynn Adams