Alicia Molik, the “Smiling Australian”

Sam MContributor IAugust 25, 2009

BEIJING - AUGUST 11: Alicia Molik of Australia serves against Maria Jose Martinez of Spain in the Women's Singles First Round match at the Olympic Green Tennis Center on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

One of the matches that I am eagerly anticipating this week isn’t a singles final between any of the top ranked players.

In fact, it doesn’t even involve a player who currently holds a world ranking.

At the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event in New Haven this week, Australia’s Alicia Molik will make her comeback to the tour, playing doubles with Meghann Shaughnessy.

I was saddened by Molik’s sudden retirement at the end of 2008.

An Olympic bronze medalist and Australian Open quarter-finalist, with a career-high ranking of number eight in the world, her career changed after illness in 2005.

Not only had had the tour lost a player with one of the best serves over the last 10 years, Australian sport had lost one of the most down to earth, genuine people.

I recall talking to an American client at the start of the year. He couldn’t recall Molik’s name but referred to her as “the smiling Australian with that massive kick serve.”

I had the pleasure of working with Alicia in February and March this year.

She impressed me with her genuine passion, love for the game and willingness to pass this onto others.

I know that the junior players she has worked with in Australia during her “retirement” have derived benefit from her advice and willingness to assist.

Seeing Alicia Molik back in the top echelon of women’s tennis would be a great achievement.

However, no matter where her comeback ends up, to have her competing again brings a smile to every tennis fan around the world.

We wish her all the best.