50 Years, 50 Heroes: Casey Dellacqua, 2008

by: Jonathan Scott | December 21, 2018

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For our sixth annual Heroes Issue, we’ve selected passages from the last 50 years of Tennis Magazine and TENNIS.com—starting in 1969 and ending in 2018—to highlight 50 worthy heroes. Each passage acknowledges the person as they were then; each subsequent story catches up with the person, or highlights their impact, as they are now. It is best summed up with a quote from the great Arthur Ashe, that was featured on the cover of the November/December issue of this magazine in 2015: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”


Dellacqua went out and splurged on some Nike clothes before her US Open match with Maria Sharapova last year, “because you don’t want to go on Arthur Ashe Stadium wearing a Target top.” –Peter Bodo / January 2008

Casey Dellacqua, the convivial, 33-year-old Aussie, retired in April via a plainspoken video announcement posted to social media. Always one to speak kindly and wield a crafty southpaw game, Dellacqua won seven WTA doubles titles and the 2011 French Open mixed doubles crown. Still, she remains admired by her peers and fans as much for her voice off the court as for her verve and accomplishments within the lines.

Dellacqua and Margaret Court both came from Perth, and both showed considerable grit on court. Their similarities largely end there. When Dellacqua and partner Amanda Judd started a family, Court, now a pastor, criticized Dellacqua in the press.

“Enough is enough,” Dellacqua tweeted in May 2017 after another round of Court’s anti-gay rhetoric. Six months later, 60 percent of Australians voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

“That was definitely the right time to speak up, and I’m really glad I did,” Dellacqua told her compatriot and close friend Rennae Stubbs on a recent Racquet magazine podcast.

Dellacqua’s openness to take on one of the sport’s all-time greats earned her the title of LGBTIA Sports Personality of the Year in Australia. Struck by that recognition, Dellacqua noted, as is her wont, “I won an award just for being Casey.”

Her reasons for retiring were not entirely about injuries, though Dellacqua had shoulder and foot surgeries, along with a recurring concussion issue.

“It basically came down to me wanting to be more of a mom than a tennis player,” she told Stubbs, adding, “there’s more kids in the plan.”

Dellacqua will be remembered for her spirited fourth-round runs at the Australian Open in 2008 and 2014. In ’08, the 23-year-old sporting clothes from Target topped then-No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo. Whereas so many players wilt under homegrown expectations, Dellacqua soared amid the clamor.

Dellacqua misses the competition and the adrenal rush of the crowds, but she hardly misses the training regimen. She now works for Tennis Australia, and will do TV commentary in January, when the sport’s epicenter returns Down Under.

In her retirement video, Dellacqua said, “I also can’t wait for the best of me away from the tennis court.” Here she comes.

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