A Christmas present was all it took to start eight-year-old Sam Stosur on her tennis journey.
As a child Sam spent hours hitting at the local courts in Adelaide with older brother Daniel. He soon realised she had above-average ability and convinced their parents, Dianne and Tony, to give Sam coaching lessons.
At the age of 13, Sam took off for her first overseas trip – to the World Youth Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia – it would be her first taste of life as a tennis pro.
At 14 she joined the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) under Geoff Masters and in 2001, when she was 16, Sam joined the Australian Institute of Sport’s tennis program.
She formed a successful coaching partnership with Craig Morris, travelling together on the WTA Tour. Craig has played a huge role in Sam’s tennis, both on the court and off, and remains a close personal friend.
Sam’s first big break came at Australian Open 2006 when she reached the fourth round – her best singles result at a Grand Slam tournament up until that point. Solid results took her to a then career-high No.27 in January 2007.
While Sam was busily working her way up the singles rankings, she was nearing the top in doubles. She became world No.1 in February 2006 after claiming a series of titles with doubles partner Lisa Raymond. The Australian–American duo won the US Open in 2005, were runners up at Australian Open 2006 and won the French Open in 2006.
In 2007, this consistently successful pair won five titles and made it to the semis at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Sam won her maiden Grand Slam mixed doubles crown at the Australian Open in 2005 with fellow Queenslander Scott Draper and her second at Wimbledon 2008 with Bob Bryan.
It was during Wimbledon 2007 that Stosur’s health started to go downhill, just as her career was on the up. Stosur battled through the pain, but after falling in the first round of the US Open, she put an end to her season. In October doctors were finally able to give her a reason for the pain and lethargy she had been feeling since Wimbledon – she had Lyme disease. Stosur also contracted viral meningyties, further shelving her plans to push for a place among the world’s elite.
Through illness Stosur missed the end of 2007 and the first few months of the 2008 season. Stosur’s return to competition came in April 2008 at an ITF event in Dothan, where she made the semifinals. In September Stosur’s comeback was complete when she made it to the final of the WTA event in Seoul.
But it was in 2009 when Sam truly came into her own in the singles arena. The year began with a third-round appearance at the Australian Open, was highlighted by a semifinals berth at the French Open and culminated with her maiden singles title in Osaka.
In 2009 Sam became renowned for her serve, which is now considered one of the best on the women’s tour, while her year-end ranking of No.13 was another career high for the Queenslander.
On the doubles court, Sam paired with Fed Cup teammate Rennae Stubbs to make the final at Wimbledon, Eastbourne and Toronto, the semis at the US Open, Dubai, Madrid and the Tour Championships in Qatar, and the quarters at Miami.
The Stosur show continued in 2010 as the Australian narrowed her focus to concentrate on singles, with the change bringing almost immediate success. A fourth-round appearance at the Australian Open was just the beginning as Stosur lifted the intensity.
Stosur made it to the semis at Indian Wells and the quarters in Miami before triumphing in Charleston to add a second WTA singles title to her collection. Stosur was a finalist at her next event in Stuttgart – falling to Justine Henin – and a quarterfinalist in Madrid as she prepared for Roland Garros.
It was on the clay that Stosur again announced her presence, clipping the wings of three world No.1s on her way to the French Open final where she was beaten by Italian Francesca Schiavone.
Not long after, Stosur rose to No.5 (July 2010) to post her latest career-high ranking.
Stosur’s best season on the Tour continued with semifinal appearances in Eastbourne, Stanford, and quarterfinal showings in San Diego, New Haven, Osaka and at the US Open.
Stosur finished her year at the WTA Tour Championships in Qatar, where she was a semifinalist. She was also awarded with the WTA’s Diamond ACES Award for 2010, recognising Stosur’s tireless efforts in promoting tennis to fans, media, and local communities. Her year was capped off by having a court named in her honour at Southport’s Queens Park Tennis Centre, Queensland.
She has been a member of the Optus Australian Fed Cup team since 2003 and is coached by the team’s captain, David Taylor.
In her downtime, Sam likes going to the beach, hanging out with friends, surfing and listening to music.
Born: 30 March 1984
Birthplace: Brisbane, Australia
Lives: Tampa, Florida
Star sign: Aries
Weight: 65 kg
Height: 175 cm
Family: Mother, Dianne, father Tony, brothers Dominic and Daniel