Australian Open 2022 goodbye, political career

Tennis champion Dylan Alcott has confirmed his interest in entering politics a few days after announcing his retirement.

The 30-year-old surprised the country on Tuesday when he announced that the 2022 Australian Open will be his farewell to the sport

Alcott has previously flirted with the concept of taking office, and he is now not hiding away from his hopes of being named Victorian Australian of the Year on Thursday.

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The fifteen-time Grand Slam champion and four-time Paralympic gold medalist was honored for his profound influence on bringing joy to the state on and off the field.

His extensive charity work with Australians with disabilities includes his work through his Dylan Alcott Foundation and the Ability Fest music festival – which is Australia’s first full-access music festival.

He has made sport for Australians with disabilities more visible than it has ever been – a legacy that has brought him up to be an icon of Australian sport.

Popularly recognized as the greatest quad tennis player of all time, Alcott now says he hopes to use his platform to continue shaping change in the lives of Australians with a disability.

Dylan Alcott completed the Golden Slam in quad wheelchair tennis today.  Then appears on the big screen during the men's singles final, takes out his trophy, fills it with beer and toughens it.  Source: Twitter
Dylan Alcott completed the Golden Slam in quad wheelchair tennis today. Then appears on the big screen during the men’s singles final, takes out his trophy, fills it with beer and toughens it. Source: TwitterSource: Twitter

That’s why he confirmed on Thursday that a career in politics is being seriously considered as he weighs options for the next chapter of his live away from the tennis court.

“You can actually influence a lot of change in there,” Alcott said of entering the political sphere on ABC.

“There have not been many disabled people who have had the opportunity to do so.

“It’s clear (Australian Senator) Jordon Steele-John is in there and a few others across the journey. That would be great. And secondly, as I said, if you want to talk about someone at a table, they have need a seat at that table.

“And so much politics has been done on behalf of people with disabilities. You know, not including us. And that’s not good enough.

“And I want to change that. And that is already changing. You know, there are a lot of people with disabilities who get the opportunity to talk and say what we want. But the final decisions are often not made by people with disabilities, well at the moment? So why not? Why not. “

He went on to say, “Why could not we have a prime minister with a disability? I’m serious. Why not”.

Alcott had said earlier this year that running for office “was definitely something I’ve been thinking about.”

Alcott has won seven Australian Open titles and will hope to go out with an eighth title before ending his fantastic career.

Alcott has also won three French titles, two Wimbledon titles and three US titles – as well as eight double grand slam titles.

While Australia mainly knows Alcott as a tennis champion, he started his career in wheelchair basketball and won a gold at the Paralympic Games in Beijing and silver in London before switching to tennis in 2014.

Since then, Alcott has dominated the quad singles world and won singles and doubles gold at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, while claiming silver in doubles in Tokyo along with his singles gold.

Dylan Alcott is a champion. Photo by Carmen Mandato / Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

But even though Alcott has achieved so much on the court, probably his greatest achievement has been the visibility he has given disabled athletes.

“I’m super proud and probably more proud of the work we’ve done off the field to be honest,” Alcott said. “Being a good tennis player is probably the 32nd priority in my life, and I mean it. Being a good person is # 1, a good family member, a good friend, a good partner for my partner Chantelle and being a good advocate for my community changing perceptions for people like me so they can live that life, they deserve to live and have the opportunities I have had. I am so lucky.

“It’s not me, it’s us – we’re all done here, my team, my family, some are here today, my double partner Heath, everyone’s a part of what we do. It’s a big puzzle, but it has really changed perceptions, I hope. “

Alcott said tennis had changed his life, admitting he hated himself when he was younger after being bullied because of his disability.

He said the moment it all changed was due to tennis when he was 11 at the Thurgoona Open, and saw other people like him.

“I saw a 20-year-old guy driving a car – I did not know you could drive a car. He had a wife – I did not know you could have a wife. He had children – I did not know you could have children “And he was happy,” Alcott said. “The social part of tennis changed my life right away. I realized I could have a life, it gave me a purpose, it introduced me to people who were like me. Maat, pys, I’m glad that I did it.”

Alcott went on to say that the Australian Open helped bring the sport to more people, beginning with a landmark moment when his quad singles final was moved to Rod Laver Arena.

“I will never forget, I went up to Craig (Australian Open director Tilley) and I played on the outdoor courts and I studied trade at uni and I just said ‘it’s basic economics, supply and demand you have more people , who would like to see than we have seats on the outdoor courts, “he said.” So I trick him into putting me on Rod Laver. Then we played on Rod Laver and were live on TV and I will never forget the finale, on Rod Laver, on TV, 10,000 people there, I looked up and there were 500 kids in wheelchairs there. I had never seen that in my life. That’s why I’m getting out of bed – it’s not for winning the Golden Slam. But when I say that, tennis has given me the platform to do it, and I’m eternally grateful.

He said the Aussie Open had now set the tone for how all disabled athletes should be treated.

Dylan Alcott will go down as one of tennis’ most influential players. Photo by Elsa / Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Alcott admitted that he had been considering retiring since 2017 and promised to “train me for the next two months and try to go out at a high level”.

The 30-year-old has had a successful media career and has many other irons in the fire.

He has a consulting firm, a food company, his foundation, wants to get into acting and even has a script he has written

As a Victorian, Alcott said he wanted out in Melbourne Park.

“It means so much to me this place because of what Tennis Australia has done, the Australian Open, but mostly the Australian audience,” he said. “Getting behind a disabled athlete in the way that everyone has just been life-changing for many people, and that sets the standard for how athletes with a disability should be treated. We are worthy, people will see we give a return on investment. I’m really excited about the next generation, which will have the same opportunities.

Dylan Alcott by the numbers

Career-high singles ranking: World No. 1 (first achieved in June 2015)

Career high double ranking: World No. 1 (first achieved in September 2019)

Grand Slam quad wheelchair titles: 15 singles, 8 doubles

Australian Open: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 singletitler; 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 doubles (all with Australian Heath Davidson)

Roland Garros: 2019, 2020, 2021 singletitler; 2019 doubles (with American David Wagner)

Wimbledon: 2019, 2021 singletitler; 2019 doubles (with Brit Andy Lapthorne)

US Open: 2015, 2018, 2021 singletitler; 2019, 2020 doubles (both with Lapthorne)

Paralympic Games record: Four gold medals, two silver medals

Beijing 2008 gold medalist with Australian Rollers basketball team

London 2012 silver medalist with Australian Rollers basketball team

Rio 2016 singles and doubles (with Davidson) gold medal winner in four-wheelchair

Tokyo 2020 single gold medalist quad wheelchair tennis; double silver medalist (with Davidson)

– With NCA NewsWire

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