Australia’s Rennae Stubbs is turning back the clock and reuniting with Lisa Raymond to play the women’s doubles at Australian Open 2010.
Stubbs and Raymond won the tournament, the first Grand Slam title of their careers, back in 2000, defeating Martina Hingis and Mary Pierce in an epic 6-4 5-7 6-4 final. Played out in front of a packed home crowd, Stubbs describes the victory as the proudest moment of her career.
“The fact that we were able to go out there against such an accomplished player as Martina Hingis, was special,” says Stubbs. “I’ll never forget the feeling of winning our first Grand Slam together. I had most of my family watching so it was a really emotional moment for the both of us. “
The victory was long-awaited revenge for the pair who had lost to Hingis and Mirjana Lucic at the Australian Open 1997 semifinals and to Hingis and Anna Kournikova at the same stage in 1998.
“We were able to come away with something we always hoped we could do, but the bottom line is you start to doubt yourself,” says Stubbs. “When it finally happened, and she (Hingis) hit that last backhand wide, I couldn’t believe we’d actually done it.”
Stubbs made her Australian Open main draw debut in the tournament’s first year at ‘Flinders Park’ (now Melbourne Park) in 1998 and says that all Australian players look forward to playing on familiar turf.
“We don’t get to experience the joy of the crowd getting behind us very often, if at all, so it’s really nice to be in that environment with its laid back atmosphere,” she says explaining that, Australian or not, the first major of the year holds special significance for everyone on the tour.
“It’s the start of a new year and we’ve had a break and we’re excited to be playing again,” she explains. “There’s a little trepidation walking out onto court for the first Grand Slam of the season. We haven’t played much tennis – competitively anyway – for a while, so there’s that new feeling which kind of hard to replace when you’ve been playing for as long as I have.”
Stubbs teamed with Sam Stosur in 2009, the pair one of four to qualify for the end-of-year, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships in Doha. And, at 38, Stubbs has high hopes for her 2010 pairing which will take to the court at January’s Medibank Sydney International for the first time since their first round loss at Wimbledon 2005.
“We’re both on the same page, trying to be aggressive and when we’re both in at the net it’s pretty hard to get the ball through us or around us because most people would consider us two of the better volleyers in the world,” says Stubbs.
The Tour’s established doubles pairings are advised to crash Stubbs and Raymond’s reunion party at their peril.
“We don’t need to prove anything to anyone, only to ourselves,” says the determined Aussie. “Enjoying it is key, but being competitive and winning the tournament – that’s always the goal when you step on the court.”