Australian tennis great Sam Stosur has made a shock U-turn, coming out of retirement from competitive singles action to play at the Strasbourg International.
But the 38-year-old made it clear after defeat in her unexpected return on Sunday that it was purely a one-off because she’s always loved the French clay-court tournament.
Asked after her 6-2 6-1 loss to Frenchwoman Harmony Tan if this might be the start of a return to the WTA singles circuit, Stosur laughed: “If Roland Garros (venue for the French Open) calls me and says, ‘you wanna play?’, sure!
Watch the latest sport on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
“But, no, my time for singles is finished.
“This wasn’t a comeback to singles, it was just a good opportunity.”
Stosur had retired from singles action four months ago with an emotional farewell in her record 20th Australian Open campaign, when she was knocked out by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
So there was widespread astonishment when the Queensland veteran turned out in the 1064th singles match of her career on Sunday against Tan, a Frenchwoman 14 years her junior.
The organisers of the event, which she won twice in 2015 and 2017, had been looking around for someone to fill in for late drop-outs in the 32-strong draw and thought it would be fitting to ask Stosur, who’s graced the tournament on many occasions.
Already set to play in the doubles with Taiwan’s Latisha Chan, she was honoured to take up the offer.
“It was good, it was fun, considering I didn’t know I was competing here until a couple of days ago,” said Stosur.
“For sure, I was a bit nervous. I guess I haven’t done many things when I wasn’t fully prepared.
“So going into here was a difficult scenario, but mostly I was just excited to get another chance of playing singles in a place where I’ve had a lot of success and enjoy myself.
“Overall, I actually hit the ball really well – I hit some balls as if it were five years ago when the ball was going exactly where I wanted it to! But on other points, she was making me move side to side and it was hard!”
Stosur is still going strong on the doubles circuit, currently ranked No.13 in the world, and is working on a new partnership with Chan with an eye on the French Open.
“Going into Roland Garros, we want to be as good as possible,” said Stosur.
The Australian, who’s captured six singles titles plus 28 doubles trophies, including seven grand slam crowns, in her career, has always enjoyed a love affair with the red clay at the French Open.
She reached the the 2010 final and reached the semis on three other occasions.
But any chance of the Roland Garros organisers offering her a late entry to the singles seems a pipedream after all their wildcards have been handed out.