The day Turnbull had Elton in her corner

Rock legend Elton John sent Wendy Turnbull a good luck message during the 1980 Aussie Open final.
Rock legend Elton John sent Wendy Turnbull a good luck message during the 1980 Aussie Open final.

She has the entire country behind her, but surely not even Ashleigh Barty can boast the rock royalty that cheered on the last local hope to make the Australian Open women's final.

Suddenly back in the spotlight after Barty's captivating run to the semi-finals at Melbourne Park, 1980 runner-up Wendy Turnbull has recalled the day she had Elton John rooting for her to win the title.

"A couple of things happened in that match," Turnbull told AAP while reliving past glories 40 years on.

"I actually got a note from Elton John during the match. All of a sudden a ball boy came over to me and he's got a piece of paper and I was like 'oh my god, what's this?'

"And on it was the note from Elton. He was watching courtside and he said 'Come on Wendy, you can do it. Love Elton.'

"And of course I started jumping up and down like a big fan.".

Confessing to being super nervous in the first set, Turnbull said the music legend's unlikely support helped her to at least make a match of the final despite ultimately losing 6-0 7-5.

Four decades on and the one-time world No.3, affectionately known as Rabbit, still fondly remembers that day at Kooyong way back when.

"I'm still good friends with Hana Mandlikova - even though she beat me - and we get together every so often for dinner," Turnbull said.

"And last year we had dinner and we talked about the final and she said, 'Oh my god, you don't know how nervous I was in that final'.

"I said, 'Well, you couldn't have been more nervous than me.'"

While Turnbull let slip her big chance to win the Open, the now-67-year-old isn't expecting Barty to.

"Ash is No.1 and she's come through a couple of close matches where she may not have played her best tennis, but I think she's looking great," Turnbull said before her fellow Queenslander's semi-final with American star Sofia Kenin..

"When you listen to her talk, she seems to be confident but in a good way."

Somewhat unheralded to modern-day fans, probably because of how long it's been between drinks, Turnbull enjoyed an exceptional career.

In addition to her Australian Open final appearance, after ousting the legendary Martina Navratilova in the semis, Turnbull was a French Open and US Open runner-up and three-times Wimbledon quarter-finalist.

Not to mention an Australian Fed Cup great and decade-long fixture in the world's top 10.

But she says it's time to hand over the mantle as the nation's last Australian Open women's finalist.

"I knew I was the last one," Turnbull said.

"But when you put it in years, oh my God, that's way too long.

"It's time for somebody else's name to go on there."

Turnbull has flown from Brisbane to be courtside as Barty attempts to consign her to the history books on Thursday.

Australian Associated Press