Melbourne, 4 December 2010 | Darren Saligari

World No.6 Sam Stosur has won the inaugural Newcombe Medal following her best season to date on the WTA tour.

Stosur’s thrilling run to the French Open final and career-high ranking of No.5 were enough for her to secure the award ahead of former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt, dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anastasia Rodionova and top 50 player Jarmila Groth.

“I think it is a great honour,” Stosur said.  “It is a really good initiative of Tennis Australia to put a night like this together for everyone to celebrate our sport. So to be the first winner of the Newcombe Medal is really special.

“It’s something that maybe when you’re retired and you look back on your achievements, I think this is definitely going to be up there.

Stosur was presented with the award by tennis legend John Newcombe who praised Stosur’s fantastic year on and off the court.

“It was great to see Sam getting the award, the inaugural Newcombe Medal. But apart from that, there were another 12 awards for people from all over the country [and] they’ve [given] great service to tennis,” said Newcombe.

The awards ceremony was held at Melbourne Park where the world’s best will soon gather for the Australian Open.

More than 500 members of the tennis community attended the black tie event, including Frank Sedgman, Neale Fraser, Evonne Goolagong Cawley who presented the Best Junior Athlete award and, of course, Newcombe.

As well as the Newcombe Medal, Australian Tennis Awards were presented to clubs, coaches and volunteers who have excelled in their fields. Find out who won an Australian Tennis Award.

“Tennis is such a huge part of our culture in Australia, we’ve obviously got a great history and we’re trying to continue that now,” said Stosur.

But the highlight was the Newcombe Medal, which caps off what has been a spectacular year for Stosur.

Earlier this year Stosur was awarded the WTA’s Diamond ACES award for her work promoting the sport. And she could add yet another award to her now overflowing mantelpiece on Monday night.

The 26 year old has been nominated for the Queensland Sport Star of the year award at the 16th Annual Queensland Sports awards to be presented on Monday.

Stosur said winning the first Newcombe Medal and receiving it from the man himself was “special”.

“Who better else to receive it from than Newk himself? Obviously we all know what he did in his career and [he’s] now still trying to drive tennis forward, so it was nice to get it from the man.”

Stosur thanked her coach, David Taylor, who was the recipient of the Coaching Excellence award in the High Performance Category.

“He actually gave me a couple of words of wisdom before I came up here, so I guess the coaching never stops,” joked Stosur.

“You dedicate your life to making me a better tennis player and we spend many many days on the road together, you’re away from your family and everything you do is to make me a better tennis player.”

With yet another award in her back pocket, Stosur will shift her focus to preparing for the 2011 season. Her first on-court appearance will be at the Brisbane International, beginning 2 January.