Australia set for new era as Stosur takes captaincy reins from Molik11/12/2023 13:12
Sam Stosur is keen to build on the foundations laid by her predecessor as she assumes the role as Australia's Billie Jean King Cup captain
By Ross McLean
Eight-time Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur believes her extensive playing experience will prove significant as she prepares to take Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup reins after being named captain.
Stosur has been announced as Australia’s new captain following the decision of the long-serving Alicia Molik to stand down at the end of the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals in Seville.
Stosur contested 34 Billie Jean King Cup ties for Australia after making her debut in the green and gold in 2003, and holds the record for most singles wins – 29 – by an Australian player in the competition.
This was part of a highly successful playing career which saw the Brisbane-born 39-year-old top the podium at the 2011 US Open and reach a career-high of No. 4 in the WTA rankings earlier that year.
Stosur is also a four-time Grand Slam doubles and three-time mixed doubles champion and believes her breadth of tennis knowledge, including her own experience of playing for Australia, will stand her in good stead in her new role.
“I’ve got years of playing experience and one thing that I know is how the girls feel when you walk out on the court to play for Australia,” said Stosur. “I know that feeling of doing it for the first time.
“Until you’re in that situation, you can’t really explain what it’s going to feel like going on a court to play in Billie Jean King Cup, compared to a normal tournament – even the first time playing the Australian Open. It really, truly is a different experience.
“I know I’ve got all these different areas of my own playing career that I can pull from. I have that understanding, when someone’s really nervous, to be able to say, ‘yeah, I totally get it’.
“It’s not going to be a surprise if that happens. You can then try and navigate it together and come out on top, or in a good way.”
Molik will be a tough act to follow after guiding Australia to two Billie Jean King Cup finals during her decade at the helm, most recently at the 2022 Finals in Glasgow which included Stosur’s Billie Jean King Cup swansong.
Stosur teamed up with Storm Hunter to great effect in the 2022 semi-finals as the duo defeated Great Britain’s Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls to power Australia in the final with a pivotal victory.
Just as in 2019, the title proved elusive 12 months ago as Australia’s wait for their eighth Billie Jean King Cup title – and first since 1974 – goes on. Stosur, however, has visions of delivering silverware for her nation.
“Alicia’s done an amazing job in this role, with her leadership with the players,” added Stosur. “Everyone always wants to be part of the team; there’s a great team culture. Everyone’s very proud of the finals we made, hopefully one day we can go that one step further.
“The camaraderie between the players and everything that she’s helped create over a really long time is vitally important to try and keep emulating and really working on.
“No doubt I’ll probably call Alicia a number of times for advice here and there, but I’d love to just try and keep the foundations that she’s been able to build.
“You knew she fully believed in you on the court. As a player, I always felt that and knew that was important. Certainly, that’s one thing I want to try and pass on now in this new role.”
Stosur’s first assignment as captain will be the 2024 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Qualifiers where Australia will play Mexico on 12-13 April for a place at the 2024 Finals.