'She deserves it': Australian Open's major move for Sam Stosur

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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  • Samantha Stosur
    Samantha Stosur
    Australian tennis player
  • Lleyton Hewitt
    Lleyton Hewitt
    Australian tennis player and tennis coach
  • Zhang Shuai
    Zhang Shuai
    Chinese female tennis player
Sam Stosur has earned a wildcard entry into next year's Australian Open, equalling Lleyton Hewitt's record for the most entires into the slam with 20. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Sam Stosur has earned a wildcard entry into next year's Australian Open, equalling Lleyton Hewitt's record for the most entires into the slam with 20. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Sam Stosur has been granted a wildcard entry to the 2022 Australian Open for what could well be her final singles appearance in a grand slam.

The 2011 US Open champion flagged earlier in December that the upcoming slam may be her last on home soil, though Stosur shied away from any specific retirement talk.

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Her entry into the 2022 tournament will mark a record equalling 20th time she has competed in the singles draw at Melbourne Park, matching the mark previously set by Lleyton Hewitt.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said it was a 'no brainer' to give the 37-year-old champion a wildcard spot.

Stosur's singles ranking has plummeted since her career-defining victory at Flushing Meadows to a lowly No.381, however her doubles game has arguably gone to new heights.

She picked up the women's doubles crown alongside China's Zhang Shuai, defeating American duo Coco Gauff and Caty McNally in three sets.

Though Tiley acknowledged Stosur's indication that 2022 could be her final appearance at the Australian Open, he said her wildcard would not be a 'parting gift' - though she would absolutely deserve one.

“She’s just outside the rankings to get in directly, and I’ve been on the journey with Sam for a long time – since 2006 – and she deserves it,” Tiley said.

“She’s a grand slam champion, she’s a legend of Australian tennis … and we’d love her to advance and finish (her career) on a strong note.

“But Sam loves playing the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if she keeps playing, but she’s said this is probably going to be the end, so we’ll see.

“We’re very proud of the fact that she has this opportunity.”

Sam Stosur to enter record-equalling 20th Australian Open

The 37-year-old Australian great reports that she started training again in late November, preparing for what she hopes will be a "big summer" that may centre on perhaps one last crack at both the singles and doubles at Melbourne Park.

"Chances are it probably will be the last time," Stosur said.

"I've just done my first day back training today. I'm seeing how things go.

"I had a little run around in preparation and lead-up to a big summer hopefully.

"My knees are a bit sore, but I actually hit pretty well considering I've had two weeks off."

Australian tennis great Sam Stosur says she is likely to retire from the sport following the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Australian tennis great Sam Stosur says she is likely to retire from the sport following the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

It seems as if the Brisbane stalwart's enthusiasm for the sport remains undimmed.

"I always love getting back on court. Pre-seasons can be a bit brutal, but I've done enough of them now that it doesn't take too long to get back into it," she said.

Indeed, 2022 will be effectively be the 22nd year of her distinguished professional career which is still flourishing in doubles, even if gathering even the occasional singles win these days has become a minefield.

After winning her opening round contest against young Australian Destanee Aiava last year, Stosur failed to win any of her subsequent eight tour-level singles matches in 2021.

Yet she was still a force to be reckoned with in doubles as she took the US Open title and reached the end-of-season WTA finals with Zhang Shuai.

With AAP

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