History has once again been made with the Australian Olympic Committee announcing Australia’s largest Olympic tennis team that will be heading to Tokyo 2020.
The 11 athlete team overshadowing the 10-athlete teams that attended the Sydney 2000 and Rio 2016 Olympics.
Sam Stosur being named as part of the team in both singles and doubles marks the fifth time she will head to an Olympic Games, the first Australian Tennis player to do so.
With eight debutants in the team, three big names come to mind, World number one Ash Barty, World number 15 Alex de Minaur and World number 60 Nick Kyrgios standing as Australia’s best chances to take home a medal in the singles events.
Ajla Tomljanovic rounds out the women’s singles trio, whilst James Duckworth and Rio Olympian John Millman will complete the men’s singles quartet.
At present the mixed doubles teams will not be submitted until July 27, but Stosur has partnered up with Ellen Perez, and Storm Sanders joins Barty in the women’s doubles. There are two men’s doubles teams for the Australians with Millman teaming up with Luck Saville, and John Peers joins De Minaur.
Alicia Molik will captain the women’s team and is likely the perfect figure in Australian tennis to do so after winning a bronze medal at Athens 2004. The national men’s coach Jaymon Crabb will head up the men’s team.
Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman singled out Stosur’s historic achievement about today’s announcement.
“It’s fantastic to announce our biggest ever Australian Olympic Tennis Team,” Mr Chesterman said.
“Over the years many of our Australian tennis players have embraced the opportunity to represent their country at an Olympic Games. Now, these 11 players add to that story. It is a highly credentialed team that has a real opportunity to add to Australia’s Olympic history.
“I want to particularly congratulate Sam Stosur on becoming Australia’s first tennis player to make it to five Olympics. She joins a select group of Athletes who have been selected on five Australian Olympic Teams.
“To create a career that stretches from Athens in 2004 to Tokyo in 2021 is a remarkable feat.
“Congratulations to all the players announced today, we’re thrilled to see you in the green and gold in Tokyo and I’m sure there will be millions of Australian fans cheering you on.
“We are very much looking forward to having you all in action in Tokyo across singles, doubles and mixed competitions.
“Thank you also to Tennis Australia and to the coaches, families, friends and supporter group that have helped these 11 players reach this Tokyo Olympic goal.”
Ash Barty’s selection marks the first time the Australian Olympic team includes an indigenous athlete chasing tennis gold, with Barty, confirming it’s a dream come true and the Australians are going to Tokyo united.
“I think making your first Olympic team, particularly as an Australian, we have such a rich history and the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamt of and obviously super excited to get out there and represent the green and gold with the rest of the team,” Barty said.
“It’s a massive united team and I can’t wait to be a part of it.
“Competing in an Olympic Games is always a dream, as young kids you aspire to, and I think we have so many iconic legends in Australian sport who have paved the way for us.
“Now for me to get a chance to create my own legacy, my own guide for youngsters coming through is really exciting.
“I’m excited to play both singles and doubles. Any opportunity you get to wear the green and gold, I wanted to grab it with both hands. I’m fit, I’m healthy, I’m excited to play doubles with Storm, she’s a childhood friend of mine and we’ve played a lot together from when we were young. So to be able to live out this dream with her is really, really special.”
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Only two Australian women have more Olympic experience in the team heading to Tokyo than Stosur, equestrian rider Mary Hanna and table tennis player Jian Fang Lay who are both attending their sixth games. Stosur said she’s proud of her huge milestone.
“It’s super special being able to represent your country in one Olympics let alone five,” Stosur said.
“I can’t believe I’m still going at this point in time, but thankfully I was able to keep going and make it between London and Tokyo which I didn’t ever think was going to be on the cards.
“To be part of a broader Australian team, that’s just another level of representation and there’s so many amazing, fantastic athletes, in the team every single year.
“You get to meet people that you’d never ever think that you’d be able to meet or talk to and whatever their sport is, they’re the best in the country and some of the best in the world. To be part of that is absolutely incredible.
“In primary school, we did a time capsule thing. I went to the school for the first year that it opened, and I wrote in there that I wanted to win a Grand Slam, be number one in the world and go to an Olympic Games. To have done two out of the three, thinking that when I was nine or 10 years old, who would’ve thought, is something incredible.”
De Minaur is having one of his best years in 2021, recently winning his first grass-court title and fifth career title at the Eastbourne international. The 22-year old believes the Olympics will drive his passion even further.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be able to represent Australia at the Olympics, it’s an incredibly special feeling,” De Minaur said.
“I think we’ve got a great tennis team all around, both in the men and the women. Hopefully we can go out there and go deep and that’s what we’re going to try and do. We’ve got a great camaraderie going and we’re going to push each other to do well.
“The preparation, the anticipation brings a higher level of intensity and of course, passion. Playing for your country, it’s always going to be very special, it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to go with all the other incredible athletes from Australia and hopefully represent Australia and do Australia proud.”
Australian Tennis Team
|Alex de Minaur
|5th (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
The Tennis competition will run from 24 July – 1 August at Ariake Tennis Park.