Australian tennis champion Dylan Alcott has announced his retirement just two months before the start of the Australian Open.
Fifteen-time Grand Slam champion and four-time Paralympic gold medallist Dylan Alcott has announced he will retire after the Australian Open, bringing down the curtain on a stunning career.
Alcott is the greatest quad tennis player of all time and is fresh off claiming the Golden Slam — winning all four grand slam titles and the Paralympic quad singles gold medal.
Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial >
Alcott has won seven Australian Open titles and will hope to go out with an eighth title before ending his stunning career.
Alcott has also won three French Opens, two Wimbledon titles and three US Opens — as well as eight doubles grand slam titles.
While Australia mainly knows Alcott as a tennis champion, he started his career in wheelchair basketball, winning a gold at the Beijing Paralympics and silver in London before he moved to tennis in 2014.
Since then, Alcott has dominated the quad singles world, winning singles and doubles gold at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, while claiming silver in doubles in Tokyo along with his singles gold.
But while Alcott has achieved so much on the court, arguably his biggest 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 court to be honest,” Alcott said. “Being a good tennis player is probably the 32nd priority of my life and I mean that. Being a good person is No. 1, a good family member, a good friend, a good partner to my partner Chantelle, and being a good advocate for my community to change perceptions for people like me so they can live the lives they deserve to live and get the opportunities that I’ve had. I’m so lucky.
“It’s not me, it’s we — we’ve all done this, my team, my family, some are here today, my doubles partner Heath, everybody that’s a part of what we do. It’s a big juggernaut but it’s really changed perceptions I hope.”
Alcott said that tennis had changed his life, admitting that he hated himself when he was younger after being bullied about 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 bloke driving a car — I didn’t know you could drive a car. He had a wife — I didn’t know you could have a wife. He had kids — I didn’t know you could have kids. And he was happy,” Alcott said. “That social part of tennis changed my life immediately. I realised I could have a life, it gave me a purpose, it introduced me to people who were like me. Mate, geez I’m glad I did that.”
Alcott continued and said the Australian Open helped take the sport to more people, beginning with a landmark moment when his quad singles final was moved onto Rod Laver Arena.
“I’ll never forget, I went up to Craig (Australian Open director Tilley) and I was playing on the outdoor courts and I studied commerce at uni and I just said ‘it’s basic economics, supply and demand, you’ve got more people that want to watch than we’ve got seats on the outdoor courts’,” he said. “So I conned him into putting me on Rod Laver. Then we played on Rod Laver and were live on TV and I’ll never forget the final, on Rod Laver, on TV, 10,000 people there, I looked up and there were 500 kids in wheelchairs there. I’d never seen that in my life. That’s the reason I get out of bed — it’s not to win the Golden Slam. But in saying that, tennis has given me the platform to do it and I am forever grateful.”
He said that the Aussie Open had now set the tone for how all disabled athletes should be treated.
Alcott admitted that he had been pondering retirement since 2017 and promised to “train my a*** off for the next two months and try to go out on a high”.
The 30-year-old has had a successful media career and has many other irons in the fire.
He has a consulting company, a food company, a foundation, wants to get into acting and has a script he’s written — and even quipped about politics.
As a Victorian, Alcott said he wanted to go out at Melbourne Park.
“It means so much to me this place because of what the Tennis Australia has done, the Australian Open but mostly the Australian public,” he said. “Getting behind a disabled athlete in the way that everyone has just been life changing hopefully for a lot of people, and it’s set the standard of how athletes with a disability should be treated. We are worthy, people want to watch, we do give a return on investment. I”m really excited about the next generation who are going to get the same opportunities.”
After the announcement, the tributes began to flow in for Alcott.
Speaking to WWOS, Aussie doubles champion Todd Woodbridge called him “one of our greatest athletes”.
“He’s proven to every athlete what they’re capable of doing,” he explained. “Just being around Dylan is so motivating, he’s been an extraordinary role model for so many people.”