Out in the OPEN
Alicia Molik is calling the Australian Open action but doesn’t miss being part of it, writes Erin McWhirter
ALICIA Molik is in a happy place. Since the Australian tennis star quit four months ago there have been no thoughts of a comeback.
The former world No.8 says there is no chance she will join the professional tennis circuit again. Instead, Molik (right) is relishing retirement without the pressure of losing a tournament, travelling the world alone and putting on a brave face when she’s been physically, mentally and emotionally wrecked.
She maintains her fitness by exercising at least an hour a day, spends time with her family in Adelaide, is renovating a house and has taken a road trip with a girlfriend down Victoria’s Great Ocean Rd in recent weeks.
‘‘I’m satisfied and have no regrets. The pressure has been lifted,’’ the 27-year-old says. ‘‘It’s a nice feeling to be able to have lunch with my mum, have a chat and not have to rush off to training.
‘‘You just know when you are ready for something new and I dedicated my life to tennis. I can walk away very happy.
‘‘You don’t need to go back for seconds, you just have to be happy with your decision.
‘‘When you’re satisfied, you are satisfied and that’s it. I absolutely won’t be (making a comeback).’’
Molik’s relaxed attitude is in stark contrast to late 2005 when she was forced from the court in tears with an inner-ear ailment as she tried to defend her crown at Switzerland’s Zurich Open.
It was the eighth time in nine tournaments she had not passed the first round and the condition, which had plagued her since March that year, had forced her out of the French Open and Wimbledon.
Molik took an extended break but bounced back into the women’s top 100 with an impressive performance at the 2007 Australian Open. She struggled last year and nagging leg and elbow problems saw her ranking drop. She announced her retirement on September 5.
She said at the time it was not a sad time but an exciting one. Sad was when she was in her hotel room and had been beaten badly, or when she would switch off her phone for two days because she didn’t want contact with anyone after losing at the US Open or Wimbledon.
‘‘As a player travelling the world, it can be very lonely,’’ she says. ‘‘For three or four years, I’ve been very good at keeping a brave face. It’s been an uphill battle, it really has, as much physically as it has been mentally and emotionally.
‘‘In 2005, you could say I was at the pinnacle of my career. I was No.8 in the world, it was the first time I’d cracked the top 10, I’d won an Olympic bronze medal.’’
A stint on Dancing with the Stars showed a post-tennis career as a hoofer wasn’t an option. She and dance partner John-Paul Collins were the third couple eliminated from the show’s fourth season after a performance that included tripping on the hem of her dress.
She’s no Ginger Rogers, then, but all of that tennis experience makes her perfect as part of Seven’s commentary team for the Australian Open.
SHE has been used for special comments once before, in the summer of 2005. ‘‘It was fun last time, but I had to bite my tongue because I had to share the locker room with the girls a couple of weeks later,’’ she says.
‘‘Because I’m retired, maybe I can have a more objective view or more opinions.’’
She is tipping former world No.1 Roger Federer to win the men’s event and either Serena or Venus Williams for the women’s.
‘‘The last time I was among the girls was my last tournament at the Olympics so it will be good to catch up with a few old mates,’’ she says.
‘‘I love the Williams sisters because you never know what you’re going to get. They can put on a show, and that’s what sport’s all about.’’