Sam Stosur has received an incredible standing ovation from the Australian Open crowd after losing in the first round of the women's doubles on Thursday. The 38-year-old announced before the Australian Open that the tournament would be last of her career.
On Thursday, Stosur and French player Alize Cornet suffered a 6-3 6-4 loss to Yang Zhaoxuan and Chan Hao-ching, bringing the curtain closer to coming down on the Aussie's career. She is still in the mixed doubles with compatriot Matt Ebden.
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Stosur was seen wiping away tears as fans gave her a brilliant reception following the final point of the match. She shared a warm embrace with Cornet as her fellow veteran farewelled her.
"It's a bit bittersweet but thank you all for coming out today. It's been really special," she said in an on-court interview with Casey Dellacqua.
"I love playing, I love competing. But you get to a point where the other things become a little more difficult. I've loved being able to do everything I'be been able to do."
Stosur's daughter and partner watched on from the crowd on Thursday as the Aussie hero bowed out of the women's doubles. “It’s incredible to play in a home tournament, and we’re very lucky to have a home grand slam. I’ve now been here 21 times, so I can’t complain,” she said.
“My family made lots of sacrifices when I was younger to allow me to follow my dreams, I couldn’t ask for anything more from my mum and dad. They’ve been my biggest supporters, and I thank them for everything that I’ve been able to do.”
Tennis world reacts to Sam Stosur loss at Australian Open
Stosur will be most remembered for her famous victory over Serena Williams in the US Open final in 2011 - her maiden grand slam singles title. She reached a high of World No.4 in singles and No.1 in doubles, adding seven grand slam doubles titles to her US Open triumph (four in women's doubles and three in mixed).
Stosur said on Saturday she was "looking forward to getting on the court one last time in front of my amazing fans, who are the reason I go out there and play the sport I love, and enjoying this wonderful ride one last time."
The Aussie hero reached the semi-finals at the French Open four times, including a loss in the 2010 final against Svetlana Kuznetsova. She also made quarter-finals in the years either side of her US Open triumph.
"I feel so happy and grateful to have the opportunity to finish playing at my favourite slam - my home slam - in front of my Aussie fans, friends and family," she said on Saturday. "Even though I've made the decision to retire from the sport I absolutely love, a small part of me would be happy to keep playing forever.
"I want to say a huge thank you to my incredible parents Dianne and Tony, my brothers Dominic and Daniel, my partner Liz and daughter Evie, and all the coaches, physios, trainers, doctors, and all my sponsors over the years.
"There are many others who have helped and supported me behind the scenes and around the world. You know who you are, I hope you know I couldn't have done it without you, and I will thank you all in person."
Fans on Kia Arena gave Stosur a brilliant standing ovation as she thanked those who turned up to watch. Tributes poured in from around the tennis world after Stosur's match on Thursday.
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