Re: Casey Dellacqua cheering thread - Volume 2
Another Casey article I saw in the paper this weekend:
Casey Dellacqua: Motherly pride
Date November 23, 2013
The news was delivered in a beautifully understated manner.
Speaking to a handful of scribes after her US Open first-round defeat, Casey Dellacqua was quizzed about her absence from the tour. Rather than another dreaded injury lay-off, it turned out to be the best break possible. She had just become a mum after her partner, Amanda, had delivered Blake Benjamin into the world.
News that an Australian sports star had become a mother, with a same-sex partner no less, would normally make for tabloid fodder. But three months after Dellacqua revealed she was gay, the reaction has been virtually non-existent.
"It's not news for the majority of people in our lives," Dellacqua told Fairfax Media. "We've got a lot of great family and friends, a lot of lovely people around us. It hasn't been too much of an issue to be honest with you, I haven't had too much reaction or interest. I'm not sure what to say because I haven't been asked until now. I've done a couple of interviews and it hasn't been much of a big issue." Nor should it, Dellacqua believes. "I feel so. I don't feel like I'm any different," she said.
"I have a great life set up and great family around me. People have babies every day and people have different paths in life. This is mine and I couldn't be more proud of my family and I'm very lucky to have such a great group of people around me. I don't know, people might have been like, 'Oh, you know, that's Casey's life' and that's probably all they thought about it and probably got on with their own life. Life is probably so busy these days they don't take much interest. I think that's the way it should be, to be honest."
Dellacqua is an open book. From the way she wore Target tops for most of her career – "I don't have any big contracts but I am an elite ambassador for Lululemon now" – there is not a hint of pretension in the Perth-born leftie. Which is why the "announcement" wasn't something she was apprehensive about.
"No, it's not like it's been a big secret or anything," she said. "I've just gone about my life and am very proud of my family. Someone had asked me why I hadn't played and that was the reason. There wasn't much more too it, it is the way it is. Like everyone else's relationships, it's not too much of a big deal, to be honest."
The big change to her life has been Blake. Now almost four months old, the toddler has got a small taste of life on the tennis tour when he travelled with Dellacqua to two tournaments in Bendigo. She won them both. However, he wasn't present when the former world No. 39 represented the Stanmore Wyverns in the Asia-Pacific Tennis League at the Prince Alfred Park tennis courts in Surry Hills on Thursday for fear of disrupting his sleeping routines.
"He's a happy little boy and, as every parent thinks, he's the cutest thing around," she said. "Since he's come along, I haven't lost too many matches so he's a bit of a lucky charm. He's a really beautiful boy. At the end of the day, regardless of what happens with my tennis, I'm very lucky that I've got a beautiful family. That's the main thing in life and I'm enjoying what I'm doing. It all comes together and things are going well."
Dellacqua may be the only mum on the WTA tour following the retirement of Kim Clijsters last year. Her family – including her flag-waving nan, Bev, who became a crowd favourite during Dellacqua's giant-killing Australian Open run in 2008 – couldn't be happier. Asked if motherhood had given her tennis career new perspective, the 28-year-old said: "A few people have asked me. I don't feel the pressure in the sense that I have to provide or I have to play for my family. I've had a really good career, now I'm 28, it's been good to date.
"Hopefully one day Blake can sit back and watch some of my matches and be proud what I achieved and how I always gave it my best. Hopefully that will reflect on him, that he's proud of me. At the end of the day, life has been about family, I've always grown up with a big family. They will be on the road a bit so I will always have them with me. It makes my job more enjoyable to have them around.
"There's no more pressure. It just adds a whole new excitement and makes it a lot more enjoyable." Dellacqua is enjoying a golden run in doubles. Along with rising Australian star Ashleigh Barty, she contested three grand slam finals and the pair have been nominated as the WTA's doubles team of the year. Her singles ranking of 131 is improving after her Bendigo victories but still almost 100 places from her career best, achieved during a purple patch five years ago. Serious foot and shoulder injuries, which sidelined her for the best part of two seasons, prevented her from climbing higher still. During those times, she considered giving tennis away and completed a course at the Ella Bache beauty school to distract her during a sabbatical.
"It was when I was injured, I was a bit lost," she said. "I needed some interest, I needed some hobbies outside of tennis. I was so focused and enthralled with my tennis career, I kind of lost my way a bit in normal life. So I chose to do some beauty therapy stuff. Whether or not I use it later, I've got some good things to take on the road."
Dellacqua's goal is to make it into the opening grand slam of the year via the Australian Open wildcard play-off and make it into the top 100 to ensure she automatically qualifies for the other majors. She cites a recent win against top-50 player Kristina Mladjenovic in Tokyo as proof the ambition is realistic.
It will mean striking a balance between doubles, where she has earned almost $2 million in prizemoney, and singles, which has netted about a quarter of that amount. "I don't just want to be a doubles player," she said. "I won't play less doubles but I want to compete in both."
Whether she can rediscover the form that took her to the fourth round of the 2008 Australian Open remains to be seen. Despite being the highest-ranked Australian behind Sam Stosur, Dellacqua will go in without a single major sponsor. Which sits just fine with her.
"Oh no, there's no big contracts and that's not what I'm like," she said. "I enjoy being Casey, I love what I do and I don't expect too much in that respect. There's definitely no big names, none of that stuff really matters to me."
Top 10: Ashleigh Barty, Jelena Dokic, Jarmila Gajdosova, Jamie Hampton, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Lucie Safarova, Maria Sharapova, Karolina Sprem, Sam Stosur.
All time favourite: Anna Chakvetadze
Will my weakness for an hour, make me suffer for a life time?