Sam Stosur with the 2011 US Open trophy. (Image: Tennis Australia)

Samantha Stosur has announced her retirement from tennis after a 23-year professional career. The Inner Sanctum looks back at one of our best sporting exports' greatest moments.

Following the announcement on Wednesday that Samantha Stosur will play her final Australian Open in January, we take a look back at the incredible career of one of Australian sport’s most successful exports.

The beginning of a special career

Born in Brisbane in 1984 but residing on the Gold Coast, Samantha Stosur was the only daughter of Tony and Diane. A three-year move to Adelaide from 1994 was the catalyst for Stosur to pick up a racket, showing incredible talent from the age of eight.

Stosur debuted professionally as a 15-year-old in the 1998 ITF Women’s Circuit and was able to get her first win in qualifying for the ITF event in her home state of Queensland in 1999.

An Australian Open qualifying wildcard was Stosur’s first WTA encounter, but ended in a loss. The Queenslander debuted in the main draw at Melbourne Park in 2002, but it was 2003 when she was able to secure her first Grand Slam win, making it all the way to the third round before a loss to seventh seed Daniela Hantuchova.

This was the beginning of what was to be a special career.

The big wins

2011 US Open Women’s Singles Final

Coming up against arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, on her home court, Stosur stunned the world when she was able to defeat American Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows in 2011.

On a patriotic day for the USA, with the match played on the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Stosur was able to block out the noisy New York crowd and smashed Williams, 6-2 6-3.

Stosur said after the match that she “played the game of my life”. The stunning upset meant Stosur was the first Australian woman to win a Grand Slam since Evonne Goolagong-Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.

Sam Stosur with the US Open trophy in 2011. (Image: USOpen.org)

2011 Tour Championships Group Match

Stosur entered the end-of-year 2011 Tour Championships as the seventh-ranked player in the world.

Her first group match was against the second-seeded Maria Sharapova who had never lost to Stosur. In fact, the Russian led 9-0 in head-to-head matches.

Against all odds, it was Stosur who was able to claim victory, 6-1 7-5, a stunning upset.

2014 Japan Open Women’s Singles Final

Having established sustained success in Japan throughout her career, Stosur entered her fourth Japan Open Final against Zarina Diyas as the heavy favourite, having already won two previous Final’s in Osaka.

The Queensland native was able to back up her favouritism and defeated Diyas, 7-6 (9-7) 6-3. Stosur remains the only woman to have won multiple singles titles at the Japan Open.

Stosur after winning her third Japan Open in 2014. (Image: Asics Australia)

2017 WTA Strasbourg Women’s Singles Final

Unless Stosur can secure an unlikely singles final win over the upcoming Australian summer, the 2017 WTA event in Strasbourg will be Stosur’s last singles title.

Fittingly, she was able to defeat compatriot Daria Saville (née Gavrilova) in a gruelling encounter, 5-7 6-4 6-3. In a great day for Australian tennis, fellow Australian’s Casey Dellacqua and Ash Barty were able to secure the doubles title at Strasbourg on the very same day.

Sam Stosur with Daria Gavrilova after her final singles title. (Image: Tennis Australia)

Playing down under

Despite being a Grand Slam champion, Stosur was never able to reach her peak when playing singles in Australia.

Her best results at the Australian Open were fourth round exits in 2006 and 2010. Stosur was unable to win any WTA singles titles in Australia, but was able to reach the final of the Medibank International in Sydney in 2005 where she suffered a tight loss to fellow Australian Alicia Molik, 7-6 4-6 5-7.

Five consecutive first round exits at the Australian Open between 2016 and 2020 and a second round exit in 2021 saw Stosur’s ranking slide to what it is today, 382 in the world.

However, her success overseas still makes her one of the greatest ever Australian tennis exports.

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Doubles success

Stosur has won 28 career doubles titles, including four Grand Slams. Wins at the US Open (2005 and 2021), Roland Garros (2006) and a crowning Australian Open achievement (2019) solidified Stosur as one of Australia’s greatest ever tennis players.

She was also runner-up in Grand Slams six times, and won three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, including a home triumph at the Australian Open in 2005.

Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai hold the US Open trophy aloft in 2021. (Image: USOpen.org)

Playing for Australia

Stosur has played 58 Fed Cup ties for Australia, culminating in 37 wins. Making her debut in 2003, Stosur is one of Australia’s most successful Fed Cup players.

Australia made the Final in 2019, which was held in Perth, but unfortunately went on to lose 3-2 to France. Stosur received the Fed Cup Award of Excellence in 2019 as recognition for her excellence at the world-renowned tournament. She also holds the record for most singles wins by an Australian.

Stosur has also been a regular at Olympic Games tennis events, competing in all events from 2004. The 37-year-old has played in more Olympic Games than any other Australian tennis player, with her final Olympics played in Tokyo in 2020.

Sam Stosur and Ashleigh Barty at the 2019 Fed Cup. (Image: Tennis Australia)

What’s next?

Stosur will play her 20th and final Australian Open at the end of January, matching Lleyton Hewitt’s 20 appearances at Melbourne Park. Stosur was given a wildcard from tournament boss Craig Tiley.

To finish out 2022, Stosur will continue to play doubles after which it is certain she will then hang the racquet up for good.

Statistics and achievements

  • One of two Australian women to win the US Open, defeating Serena Williams 6-2 6-3 in 2011.
  • Lost Roland Garros Final to Francesca Schiavone 4-6 6-7 in 2010
  • 31 wins against Top 10 opponents
  • Highest ranking of #4 in 2011
  • Current ranking of #382
  • Highest doubles ranking of #1 from 2006
  • One Grand Slam singles title
  • Four Grand Slam doubles titles
  • Two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles
  • Nine career singles titles
  • 28 career doubles titles
  • Three career mixed doubles titles
  • Three Newcombe Medals (2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Fed Cup Award of Excellence (2019)
  • Career prize money of $19,776,702 USD

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