As Samantha Stosur prepares to play her final singles tournament at the Australian Open, the former World No.4 is under no illusions that her stoic façade won't buckle in the face of the moment.
"Oh, for sure I'll be emotional and probably be a blubbering mess," Stosur said before the tournament. "I'll put it out there right now. I'll probably be in tears and everything else.
"But I feel like the time is right. I'm happy with my decision."
2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur announced on Instagram that the Australian Open will be her final singles event.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) December 29, 2021
Will continue to play doubles through the 2022 season. pic.twitter.com/kQ1iEuRM3j
While the 37-year-old will continue to play through 2022 on the doubles circuit with Zhang Shuai, Stosur announced in December that this would be her final go-around in singles. Bidding farewell to her singles career at home at Melbourne Park is the dream scenario for the 2011 US Open champion. Surrounded by friends and family and at peace with her decision, Stosur is soaking in every moment.
"I know there's going to be tears, but it's not for necessarily stopping," she said. "It's obviously just been a huge part of my life, this sport, and my career and something I'm very proud of, and I think as soon as you walk away from anything like that, there's always going to be emotion involved.
"I know I'm going to look up into the stands and probably see my mom crying, and then I'll definitely be gone."
In 2011, Samantha Stosur shocked the world and defeated then-13-time major winner and three-time US Open champion Serena Williams in our final.— US Open Tennis (@usopen) April 23, 2020
Relive the entire upset now on our YT channel ➡️ https://t.co/oU82XnO3Ns@bambamsam30 pic.twitter.com/KVdMPZFYTX
Stosur will face American wildcard Robin Anderson on Tuesday in the first match on Kia Arena. Now ranked No.487, Stosur spent the week before the tournament gaining confidence on the practice courts and hitting with a variety of players. A hitting session with No.9 Iga Swiatek got her into a good hitting groove.
"Obviously you want to win," Stosur said. "If you play tennis or any sport, you're competitive. I couldn't have done this for this long if I wasn't competitive.
"But first and foremost, I want to go out there, enjoy myself, play well, be free, swing. If I want to hit, go for that winner down the line, I'm going to do it. I think it's about playing and enjoying that moment and soaking it all up."
Ashleigh Barty is famous for keeping tennis off her television when she's away from the courts, but the World No.1 said she'll be tuning in. Barty spared no words when asked about Stosur's legacy as the longtime standard-bearer of Australian tennis.
"She is our champion. We love her to bits," Barty said. "I really hope that she gets to enjoy the experience come Tuesday when she's playing.
"She has set the tone for us Aussies as tennis players for years and years. For her to have an opportunity to go out on her terms is incredibly exciting. I'm so excited for her next chapter, what that brings in her life.
"I think the way she's been able to pave the path and guide so many Australians, so much of the Australian tennis youth, has been nothing shy of remarkable."
Stosur said she looks forward to continuing to guide and mentor Australian talent in the future.
"I think there's obviously a lot of information I've been able to gather over my career that can be really useful to some younger players, and I'm always willing to kind of help out wherever possible if they need anything or want to know something or anything like that," Stosur said.
"That is certainly something I'm definitely interested in doing post-playing and even now. I enjoy that side of tennis now for sure, and I think I've cared too much about the sport to not want to be involved in that sort of way."
Stosur paved her way on tour as a premier doubles player. Her singles success came later in her career. Her US Open title was foreshadowed by a run to the French Open final in 2010. Stosur won nine singles titles in her career and finished in the Top 10 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Regardless of her future, Stosur says she's incredibly proud of her legacy and the state of Australian tennis.
"Obviously for a number of years I guess I was the No.1 ranked player," Stosur said. "That's something I always felt very proud of. Now having Ash be No.1 in the world, not just Australia, but in the world, winning Slams, doing what she's doing for tennis in this country, is absolutely incredible. Obviously from that respect we can't be in a better place.
"But you're not necessarily the best country for tennis if you've only got one player. Fortunately, we've got Ajla [Tomljanovic] in the Top 50 or so, Dash [Saville] is on her way back. I have no doubt she's going to find herself where she was, where she belongs. She's too good a player not to be able to get back there.
"Storm [Sanders] is coming up. She's had the year of her life. Pri [Hon] Lizette [Cabrera]. Astra [Sharma] between 100 and 200. If we can get all those girls to push each other along, hopefully they can all find themselves in main draw Grand Slams and really be on the WTA Tour full time, and we can have a really good group."