Samantha Stosur became the first Australian woman to win a tennis grand slam in 31 years today after pulling off a stunning US Open victory. But the real interest is now in how her management can leverage Sam’s success to send her up the power athlete charts.
Stosur’s upset straight sets win over home-town favourite Serena Williams sees her become Australia’s first female grand slam champion since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won at Wimbledon in 1980. She’s the first home-grown tennis major champ since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.
As well as taking home $1.8 million in prize money (which, as a few wags have already pointed out, is unfortunately in USD not AUD), Stosur is set to become the new golden girl of Australian tennis.
“For women’s tennis its right up there with Cadel Evans winning the tour, it’s that big,” Andrew Hughes, a lecturer in sports marketing at ANU, told The Power Index. “And to do it against some of the biggest players in the world will definitely provide a boost to women’s tennis which has been badly needed for a while now.”
Stosur’s win continues a bumper year for international athletic success, after Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France in July.
Chris Rawlinson, marketing manager at the Institute of Sports, Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University, says the onus is now on Stosur’s management to get the “biggest bang for their buck”.
“The Australian public seem to focus a lot on male athletes, so I think it’s great there’s now some interest in female success,” the former Olympic athlete and sports manager said. “The women are holding their own internationally, even more so than the men.”
But Rawlinson says Stousr will need to keep winning if she is to really generate sponsor interest: “I think it’s been shown that one victory won’t be enough [for sponsors]. To make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd you need to sustain that success over a career.”
Hughes says Stosur’s win will get the attention of sponsors, it’s just her personality which might not appeal to marketers.
“It’s similar in a way to Cadel Evans. Their personal brand is strong, it’s just not over-the-top as with someone like Ian Thorpe,” Hughes tellsThe Power Index. “He really transformed the way swimming was seen. His own brand became just as big as the sport itself at his peak.”
“Banks or financial intuitions would love someone like her, unassuming and low risk,” said Hughes. “But to sell a box of Cornflakes, I wouldn’t think so.”