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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11299

Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper) (11:55): I rise to celebrate the remarkable and historic victory by Samantha Stosur in the US Open. Stosur's win in straight sets was the first Grand Slam victory by an Australian woman in 31 years. While this achievement is remarkable of itself, the manner in which Stosur won the final was truly extraordinary. She was powerful, accurate, poised and remained in control of her game even though her opponent's outbursts at the umpire made for very interesting viewing on the TV. She played the match of her life against a multiple Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1 and came out on top. But if we look past the triumph of her victory we find that Stosur's journey to glory at Flushing Meadows was not easy.

Stosur has played tennis since she was a young girl. She trained at the Queensland Academy of Sport as a teenager and later at the Australian Institute of Sport. She began her professional career in 1999 and saw limited success for a number of years. In 2005, she reached the final of the WTA event on the Gold Coast. Stosur won the mixed doubles title with Scott Draper at the Australian Open in that year. She then teamed up with American Lisa Raymond to win seven doubles titles in 2005, finishing the year ranked No. 2 in the world in women's doubles. By 2006, Stosur and Raymond were ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles, at one stage winning 18 matches in a row.

In 2007, Stosur's form dropped when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness which can cause severe fatigue. The disease forced her to take an extended break from the game as she fought to recover. To her credit, Stosur fought back from her illness and began her rise through the world rankings. In 2009, she reached the semifinals at the French Open and, in Japan, won her first WTA singles event. In 2010, Stosur beat three former No. 1 players on the road to the final of the French Open, which she unfortunately lost. After a difficult start to the 2011 season she has finally broken through to win the most coveted of tennis prizes: a Grand Slam event.

Her victory this week is a triumph of persistence and determination. Unlike so many of the great players in world tennis, she did not burst onto the scene as a precocious teenager. Her success has come through hard work and sacrifice. Her fans marvel at her powerful groundstrokes, delicate volleys and pinpoint serves; however, we do not get to see the countless hours of practice and training. We are not privy to the moments of self-doubt. We do not experience the sweat, tears and loneliness of practice on deserted outside courts. For her, every victory was difficult. She had to fight through the longest-ever women's match at the US Open and the longest tiebreaker in women's tennis history.

Off the court Stosur has been recognised for her efforts to promote tennis and connect with the media and sponsors. Last year she received the WTA Diamond Aces Award in recognition of her efforts on and off the court. Tennis Australia has high hopes that Stosur's success will translate into increased participation in junior tennis. I recently had the privilege of experiencing the Hot Shots and Cardio Tennis programs when Tennis Australia visited Parliament House.

Tennis is an enjoyable and rewarding sport, and I trust the success of Samantha Stosur will translate to increased participation in that wonderful sport. Australia values its sporting heroes, and Samantha Stosur has been elevated to the very highest echelon of modern Australian legends. She can be very proud of her achievements, and I sincerely hope this victory is not the last Grand Slam win for Samantha Stosur.

It is also appropriate to mention Stosur's coach, David Taylor. Stosur praised Taylor for continuing to believe in her through her difficult start to the 2011 season. Coaches are often the first to be criticised when things are going wrong and the last to be congratulated when things are going well, so it is to his credit that David has stuck by Sam through the good times and the bad.

On behalf of the residents of my electorate I extend my warmest congratulations to Sam Stosur and wish her every success into the future.