Sam Stosur makes huge call on Arina Rodionova after ugly Aussie tennis storm

Australia's Billy Jean King Cup captain has recalled Arina Rodionova to the team.

Aussie tennis great Sam Stosur has made the bold decision to recall veteran Arina Rodionova to Australia's Billie Jean King Cup team. The former US Open champion took over from Alicia Molik as Australia's BJK Cup captain and will be at the helm for the crucial April 12-13 qualification tie against Mexico at Pat Rafter Arena.

In the build-up to the clash this month, a major talking point has been whether the former World No.4 would pick Rodionova in the wake of the 34-year-old's controversial Australian Open wildcard snub and subsequent criticism of Tennis Australia. Rodionova accused Tennis Australia of having a personal vendetta against her after being controversially overlooked for an Australian Open wildcard in favour of Daria Saville.

Pictured L-R: Sam Stosur, Arina Rodionova and Ajla Tomljanovic
Sam Stosur has made the bold decision to recall veteran Arina Rodionova in place of Ajla Tomljanovic in Australia's Billie Jean King Cup team. Image: Getty

Australia needs to beat Mexico to earn a spot in the 12-nation finals, which will be played in Spain in November. They bowed out in the 12-team finals stage last year after making the title match in 2022 and Stosur is prepared to make the hard calls to get Australia back into the finals in 2024.

With Ajla Tomljanovic unavailable as she recovers from recent surgery, Stosur has selected Rodionova in her place. She will join Storm Hunter, Saville, doubles ace Ellen Perez and promising teenager Taylah Preston. "We have experience coming into this tie with Australia's top-ranked singles and doubles players, which I'm sure will put us in a good position to get the win against Mexico," Stosur said ahead of her first tie as captain.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 22: Sam Stosur and Ellen Perez of Australia in their game against Hayley Carter of United States and Luisa Stefani of Brazil during their doubles match on day one of the Adelaide International tennis tournament at Memorial Drive on February 22, 2021 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sam Stosur has taken over from Alicia Molik as Australia's BJK Cup captain.

"I'm also delighted to name Taylah as a fully-fledged member of the team - it's only two years ago that she was our 'orange girl'. She's still only 18, has had some terrific results recently and I'm excited for her to have this opportunity to represent her country at the highest level."

Rodionova is excited to be back in the national team fold, with her selection marking her first BJK Cup appearance since 2016. "It's such an honour to be a part of the Billie Jean King Cup team and represent Australia at our home tie," said Rodionova. "I am really looking forward to it and will do everything I can on and off the court to help the team get that win."

Arina Rodionova's strained relationship with Tennis Australia

Rodionova is the top-ranked female player in the country and recently became the oldest woman in history to reach the top 100 for the first time but her relationship with Tennis Australia is strained. After not receiving a wild card to the Australian Open, Rodionova bowed out in qualifying and promptly took a swipe at Tennis Australia after the match.

"The only regrets I have from today is just I gave Tennis Australia something to celebrate," Rodionova said after she lost in the subsequent qualifying for the Australian Open. "I think they are very pleased with my result today and that's what makes me upset...

"There are so many things and instances that happened between myself and people in charge of, like, the head of women's tennis and other people in Tennis Australia," she added. "There were just so many things behind the scenes that it is very clear to me that I'm not liked.

"And it's not just clear to me, it's clear to every single Australian tennis player and everyone. It's not exactly a secret, everyone knows it and now it's kind of funny that basically by making this decision they decided to make it public as well."

with AAP

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