Sam Stosur has announced her return to tennis as Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup captain after a year out of the sport.
The grand slam champion packed up her racquets for the last time at the Australian Open in January following a lengthy farewell tour, having given up singles early in 2022 before playing out her career on the doubles circuit.
The 39-year-old spent her first season off the tour at home with partner Liz and their daughter Evie while also dabbling in commentary.
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But it hasn’t taken long for Stosur to be offered — and accept — a formal role within tennis once more.
The Queenslander said she is “super excited” to step into the BJK Cup role vacated by Alicia Molik, who recently brought her 10-year stint to a close.
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“For a long time I’d obviously been very interested in Australian tennis, especially the girls’ side,” Stosur said in a statement.
“This year I was happy just to be home and not worry too much (about the future). Obviously I did the commentary and that side of things, so I feel like I’ve kept my foot in the door, at least in the tennis world.
“Without a question I was going to stay in the sport. I just hadn’t fully worked out exactly how. And then this started being a possibility. So I’m glad that it’s ended up being this role.”
Sam Stosur spent the past year with partner Liz and daughter Evie. Credit: Instagram
Stosur first represented Australia in the BJK Cup (then Fed Cup) in 2003 and still holds the Australian record for singles victories with 29, while also having won 10 out of 11 doubles matches.
In 2019 she paired up with legendary teammate Ash Barty to win a doubles rubber away from home against Belarus and secure Australia’s place in the final.
They came together again in the championship-deciding rubber against France but were beaten in straight sets.
A similar scenario played out in the 2022 tournament.
Australia reached the final when Stosur teamed up with Storm Hunter, who is now the world’s No.1 doubles player, to defeat Great Britain in Scotland.
Stosur and Barty teamed up to help Australia reach the 2019 Fed Cup final. Credit: Getty
Stosur said she will lean heavily on her playing experience to help Australia’s stars on the court, but her old teammate Molik can also expect a few calls for some advice.
“Alicia’s done an amazing job in this role, with her leadership with the players. Everyone always wants to be part of the team; there’s a great team culture,” Stosur said.
“The two finals that we made (in 2019 and 2022) … everyone’s very, very proud of that and hopefully one day we can go that one step further.
“I think the camaraderie between the players and everything that she’s helped create over a really long time is vitally important to try and keep emulating and really working on.
“No doubt I’ll probably call Alicia a number of times for a bit of advice here and there. But I’d love to just try and keep the foundations that she’s been able to build.
“You knew she fully believed in you on the court. As a player I always felt that and knew that was important. Certainly that’s one thing I want to try and pass on now in this new role.”
Alicia Molik won the Spirit of Tennis award. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images for Tennis Australia
Molik, who was recently announced as the Adelaide International’s new tournament director, won the Spirit of Tennis award at the Australian Tennis Awards on Monday night.
“It’s humbling. I’m flattered. To a degree it’s also embarrassing because I feel so many people do so much more than me in the sport of tennis,” the 42-year-old said in her acceptance speech.
“It’s a real privilege and a real honour to receive this award.
“Having dedicated a lot of the last 10 years in women’s tennis, I’ve noticed a huge amount of change and progression getting closer to equality.
“I’m really proud of that progression that we’ve made and we’re making in women’s tennis. Still greater strides to be made in the future with this (Australian) team sitting before me.
“And with Sam (Stosur) leading the charge, I’m rapt she’ll be in the position to help these young strong women and what they want to achieve in the sport of tennis.”