Australian tennis Grand Slam champion Dylan Alcott has announced that he will retire after competing in the Australian Open in January.
Born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, and then with the subsequent surgery that removed the tumour leaving him paralysed and suffering from bullying during his childhood, Alcott could have been forgiven for living a life of self-pity.
However not only did he prove that his disability was not going to hold him back, he inspired a nation and showed that no matter what difficulties and challenges one might face in life if they persevere and try their best, they can still be successful.
At the age of 17, he represented the Australian Wheelchair Basketball team and became the youngest Rollers gold medal winner. He won two Paralympic medals with the Rollers, a gold in 2008 in Beijing and a silver at the 2012 Games in London.
Determined to prove that he was talented in other areas of sport, he then turned to tennis and demonstrated that he could match it with the best there as well. His unique backhand that can switch from a sublime spinning drop-shot to a magnificent overhead, coupled with an incredible service game, has made him so hard to beat.
The outspoken athlete fast became a common household name as he went on to win 15 Grand Slam singles titles and eight doubles titles on his way to becoming the most successful men’s quad tennis player of all time.
Alcott has not only used his success to represent and advocate for the rights of people living with disabilities, he has championed that people with disabilities can transition to successful leadership roles.
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After being so dominant for most of the last decade, Dylan admits he is looking forward to coming out for one more Grand Slam and doing it with style in Melbourne, saying he’s “really excited”.
The 30-year old, who earlier this year became the first man to win the calendar Golden Slam which includes winning all four Grand Slams and the gold at an Olympics or Paralympics, said he knew the time was right to hang up his tennis racquet.
“I feel like I’ve done everything I need to do on the tennis court,” Alcott said.
“I feel redundant, I feel old, a bit washed up and the next generation is coming, it’s their turn to dominate and get the recognition they deserve.”
And what better way to finish up than on his own home ground in Melbourne.
“This is my home and the Australian Open changed my life. Tennis changed my life,” he continued.
“I owe it everything, and what better way to finish it off with big crowds – big, big crowds”.
The impact Alcott has had on fellow Paralympians and people living with a disability cannot be diminished. He has been very outspoken in helping to remove the barriers that people with disabilities might encounter in life.
The Melbourne born fifteen-time Grand Slam champion and four-time Paralympic gold medallist will be aiming to achieve the ultimate farewell by winning an eighth successive Australian Open Championship and sixteenth Grand Slam tournament on home soil in front of his home crowd at Melbourne Park.
While tennis might be at the forefront of his mind and energy at the moment, Alcott jokingly indicated that a career in politics may be a path he embarks on after he retires in January.
The Australian Open will be held from January 17-30, 2022.
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