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'Queen' Sam Stosur keen to mentor next gen

3 minute read

It could be Sam Stosur's last year in tennis - but the popular and evergreen Australian may still have a big part to play in the nation's tennis future.

SAMANTHA STOSUR.
SAMANTHA STOSUR. Picture: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Sam Stosur bursts into laughter when you put it to her that she must now be considered the matriarch of Australian tennis.

"Matriarch? Makes me sound like the queen!" she beams.

But then watching the ever-popular Australian's regal progress around Roland Garros this past fortnight, it's evident that she really is tennis royalty these days. Everybody loves Sam.

At 38, she may have retired from singles but she's still going strong in doubles, and was one of the rare Aussies to make it to the second week of the French Open before she and Matt Ebden departed the mixed event at the quarter-final stage.

But even seemingly ageless Stosur accepts she's coming to the end of a wonderful tennis journey that took her to a US Open title in 2011, a French Open singles final in 2010, nine WTA singles titles and seven grand slam doubles crowns.

"Highly doubtful," she says, when asked by AAP if she'll be back at Roland Garros in a year's time.

"But, no, I haven't put a date on it. I'm not gonna look to start a new (doubles) partnership and already have an end date in sight," adds the Brisbane champion, who has to juggle her career with being a mum to two-year-old Genevieve.

"I couldn't imagine still being here next year, but I shouldn't say that because I couldn't have imagined I'd be playing for 21 years either!"

Stosur has had such a distinguished career it's hard to imagine Australian tennis not having a role for her when she finally hangs up her racquet.

She surveys the current landscape of Australian tennis, with only one woman in the world's top 100 (Ajla Tomljanovic) and admits: "It's not great by any means."

But could she play a part in helping push through the next group of players, 11 in all who are hovering between 124 and 240 in the rankings?

"I am happy to mentor any of those girls," she says with genuine enthusiasm.

"I think they are all fantastic girls, firstly. I would love to get involved in that space a little bit, but they just need to stay healthy and be at this level competing all of the time," she added, citing 17-year-old Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz and 20-year-old Olivia Gadecki as two to watch.

Stosur also backs Daria Saville, the only Aussie to reach the third round at Roland Garros, to power back into the top 100.

"You have a whole bunch between 100 and 240 in the world. We need all of those to kind of push each other along and really try to get up the rankings," she says.

Do the younger girls come to Stosur for advice? "Whenever I am practising with them, we always talk," she smiles.

"It's funny; as the years have gone on, you feel like you want to do that a lot more whereas when you are so entrenched in it, you just have tunnel vision and you're solely focused on what you are doing.

"That makes it hard to look at anything else, but now I'm absolutely willing to look at other players.

"The other day, I went out and watched Dasha (Saville) play and was thinking, 'I haven't gone out and watched a match on the first day of this tournament ever in my life.'

"And I was like, 'this is actually pretty nice, to not have the stress of doing it when you can actually just watch, relax and enjoy'."

Could Stosur envisage an administration role for herself within Australian tennis?

"I don't know, but I think I would still love to be involved in tennis, whether it is from being on court or that side," she said.

"I tend to give my two cents at the moment, anyway. It is certainly something I am passionate about and I like trying to make it better or give my opinion and if players can get a little better with my help, that's great.

"I have been in the sport so long, I certainly could not imagine that once I do completely stop, shutting the door and never talking tennis again.

"I couldn't imagine that ever being the case...."

But for the moment, 'Queen' Sam is happy to let her tennis do the talking for perhaps one final lap of honour. Next stop, Wimbledon.

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