Doubles partner Matthew Ebden has led the tributes to retiring champion Sam Stosur, giving an emotional insight into what has made her one of Australia’s favourite tennis players.

Retired champion Sam Stosur says she won’t miss taping her ankles – but mixed doubles partner Matt Ebden says the tennis world will miss her dearly.

“It’s really, really rare to have such an amazing qualified champion in every area of the sport who is such a great person as Sam is,” Ebden told News Corp on Saturday night.

“It’s no secret – everyone around her tells her that. She must know it and believe it by now, but she’s just such a great person.

“She’s so humble, she’s kind, she’s caring and she’s just a really authentic, legitimate person.

“And it’s really hard to find good people like that in the world – and even more rare for one that’s an incredible champion tennis player.”

They were beautiful words for a beautiful player.

Eighteen years after Stosur won the Australian Open mixed doubles with Sam Draper she has bowed out of professional tennis.

In between there have been plenty of highs and one dizzying triumph.

It was 2011 when Stosur became the first Australian woman to win the US Open since Margaret Court in 1973 and the first Australian woman to win a grand slam since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

That came with a straight-sets victory against the legendary Serena Williams and the singles triumph is complemented by seven doubles slams.

Stosur won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2014 and the women’s doubles at Melbourne Park in 2019, at Roland Garros in 2006 and at the US Open in 2005 and 2021.

Seven doubles slams and one singles slam for the 38-year-old who was sent off in a sea of celebrations on Saturday night.

While Stosur and Ebden fell in a tiebreak at a packed Court 3, the golden girl from the sunshine state was even the toast of their opponents.

“When I was young she was one of my idols,” Nikola Schuurs said.

Stosur and Ebden teamed up a few years ago and Ebden was thrilled to have a great by his side.

They made the final at Wimbledon last year and at the Australian Open in their first attempt.

“To spend a few years playing with Sam on the mixed doubles court and getting to know her well and team up, it’s been amazing first that she would play with me and I learnt so much from her,” Ebden said.

“Mixed doubles … the guy is supposed to do the lead, but Sam’s the strong one out there. I just try to hold my court.”

The finality of this week hit Stosur in the shower on Saturday morning.

Having already lost the women’s doubles, she knew a defeat with Ebden would end her career at what was her 21st Australian Open.

“It just feels a bit strange,” Stosur told News Corp.

“It just feels a bit strange that this is my last bit of press as a player. There’ll be waves of emotion coming out as the night goes on.

“To be honest the only time I really thought about it was when I was having a shower this morning and got all emotional and then didn’t want today to be it.

“Matt’s got the rest of the year and I’ll put my feet up tomorrow. I don’t know (what’s next).

“It’s really strange thinking about what tomorrow’s going to feel like. It’ll be just nice in a lot of ways to wake up and not have any plans.”

Stosur’s partner is usually preparing recovery meals after matches but her entourage, along with Ebden’s, sat in her final media commitments as a player.

What about that win over Serena, who hadn’t dropped a set all tournament in 2011?

“It was an absolute dream come true. It was something I wanted to do right from when I knew what a grand slam was,” Stosur said.

“Very fortunate to have done that in singles at the US Open and have that incredible moment.

“But I still remember winning the mixed here in 2005 and never in my wildest dreams would’ve thought I’d be able to do what I did and have the career I had and be able to share the court with many players and friends.”

Originally published as Australian Open 2023: Sam Stosur’s tennis career over after mixed doubles loss

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