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Matildas farewell pioneer Williams in rousing send-off

Australia has given Lydia Williams a stirring send-off as the Matildas pioneer prepares to bring down the curtain on her international career.

Williams, Australian football's longest-serving player, sent a capacity Accor Stadium wild with every touch of the ball during the friendly against China on Monday night.

A guard of honour assembled for the 36-year-old before the match as Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley presented Williams, a Noongar woman, with a traditional animal skin cloak.

Bearing the captain's armband, Williams's game came to an end just before halftime when coach Tony Gustavsson opted to bring preferred goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold onto the pitch.

The 76,798-strong crowd sent Williams off in her 104th appearance as a Matilda with a rousing standing ovation.

Williams will hang up the gloves after the Paris Games, which start in late July, bringing an end to a distinguished career in green and gold.

The experienced campaigner has featured in five World Cups, six AFC women's Asian Cups - including the 2010 title triumph - and two Olympic Games.

Lydia Williams receives her cloak from Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
Lydia Williams received a cloak from tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley in a pre-match ceremony. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

"To receive that gift from Evonne was just incredible and I think that was probably the moment that tipped me over emotionally," Williams said.

"I don't know if it's like, game recognises game. It was a lovely moment.

"A lot of sporting women in Australia just want to leave the game better than when they first arrived in it and don't really realise the impact of how they have shaped the culture of not only women's sport, but just Australian sport.

"To receive that from such an icon, a legend of tennis, is just absolutely, really humbling.

"That was kind of a cap off to the kid that grew up in the desert that fell in love with football."

Debuting for the country in 2005 as a 17-year-old, Williams has been a crucial figure for the women's team throughout their rise.

The West Australian was the face of the Matildas' 2015 players' strike, spearheading the fight to improve working conditions for the national team.

Lydia Williams.
Williams was moved to tears after receiving her cloak. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Teammate Clare Hunt praised Williams's contributions to the sport across her 19 years with the Matildas.

"It was just an awesome celebration of all that she's achieved personally in her career but also for Australian women's football and women's football across the world," Hunt said.

"It's always a privilege to share the field with Lyds.

"She's very old-haired and very mature and very experienced, so it's amazing to be able to be in an environment where you learn from her every single day."

China coach Ante Milicic, a former Matildas boss, said he hoped Williams remained connected to the sport.

"She should be extremely proud of what she's achieved in her career that she's had both on international and club level," Milicic said.

"The main thing is now that we keep her involved in the game in some capacity because there's just so much knowledge and experience there and that can definitely feed off down to the younger generation."