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Australian tennis champion Sam Stosur has opened up about the moment she decided to make public her relationship with long-time partner Liz Astling.
Speaking with sports journalist Neroli Meadows on her podcast, Ordineroli Speaking, Stosur opened up about the night of the 2019 Newcombe Medal night - where she first publicly revealed her relationship.
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Friends and family had long known of Stosur and Astling's romance, but it wasn't public knowledge until Stosur made an acknowledgement of Liz in an Instagram post in the early hours of the morning that their partnership went public.
In a lengthy post after winning the 'Spirit of Tennis' award, Stosur paid tribute to the many friends, family and trainers who had helped her reach the lofty heights of her career peak.
In typically understated Stosur fashion, her first public mention of Astling might have easily been missed, such was the subtle way she want about making her love public.
“To my Mum, Dad, Daniel and Dom and my partner Liz, you have given me the love, support and every opportunity to pursue my dream and I’ll be forever grateful,” part of the post read.
That post was perhaps what Stosur truly wanted to say when she was up on stage accepting the award at the Crown Palladium that night, with Stosur telling Meadows she had intended to do so before backing out at the last moment - and soon regretting it.
“I accepted that award and got up there and made my speech and as I was going I was like ... ‘No, I can’t do it’,” she said.
“Once I stepped off stage I was like, ‘What are you doing? You’ve just accepted this award, thanked all these people and the person who is really with you every single day, the person you have the most candid and open discussions with who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you can’t mention them on stage?’
“I was like, ‘Nah, that’s ridiculous, I don’t want to do that anymore’.
“We were walking back to the car to come home and I said, ‘I want to do this’ and I think I hit send at 3am or something.”
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While the decision to come out publicly seems like no big deal now, at the time it caused Stosur a significant amount of stress.
The 2011 US open champion said she had always struggled with the idea of publicly acknowledging her sexuality.
“It’s just that stigma that’s attached to it all, which I think is getting better now, always scared me. Probably just to really open up was always hard for me,” Stosur said.
“I came close and it was, ‘I don’t want to deal with this anymore, I’m just going to do it’ (but) I never did. I think it’s the right time when it happens, so I don’t have regrets but I wondered, ‘Would things have been a bit different or would things have played out a little bit differently if I’d taken that leap before?’
“You don’t realise that (weight) until you get it off your shoulders."
Stosur had many fears about coming out, even concerned the prospect could lose her sponsors and affect her career - but the wave of support she received after making the post proved to her that she'd made the right decision.
The 37-year-old said she was glad she had finally acknowledged publicly the many important contributions Astling has made to her life and career.
“It actually felt so good just to open up that little bit more and have that truth of my relationship with her out there and just to finally say thankyou to her," she said.
“Because she’s a huge part of my life firstly, tennis secondly but again all of that ties in together and it just got to the point where I was sick of not being able to acknowledge her, first and foremost, and I wanted to be able to say thanks.”
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