Tennis icon Dame Ruia Morrison receives DNZM insignia

Source: 1News

Tennis great Ruia Morrison has received the insignia of a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on Friday for her services to tennis.

She was awarded a damehood in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Dame Ruia (Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) received the insignia in an investiture ceremony with Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro at Government House in Auckland.

Not only was Dame Ruia the first Māori to compete at Wimbledon, but she played there multiple times - in the 1957, 1958 and 1960 tournaments.

Dame Ruia was also the New Zealand Open singles champion six times, famously beating Margaret Court in the 1960 final.

Her high ranking in women's tennis saw her appointed the Order of the British Empire in 1960.

Dame Ruia Morrison (centre right) with Serena Williams, Jessica Pegula (far left) and Kiingi Tuheitia after the 2020 ASB Classic final.

The sports legend was also captain and player for the 1965 New Zealand Federation Cup Team against Argentina and Australia and in 1972 she was captain against Columbia, Finland and the Netherlands.

She encouraged other women and tāngata Māori to break barriers themselves, volunteering her time as a coach and mentor to the tennis community. She was also involved in the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Championships for many years.

Dame Ruia was inducted into the Māori Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Te Arawa Hall of Fame in 2014.