Flashback Friday: Alicia Molik wins Olympic bronze
In our Flashback Friday series, we look back at Alicia Molik's Olympic medal winning-run in 2004.
Alicia Molik created Olympic history at Athens in 2004, becoming the first Australian to win a singles medal in tennis.
Molik, who was 23 at the time, won a bronze medal.
“It was a great memory, it still is,” reflects Molik. “It’s one of the greatest moments throughout my entire playing career.”
Molik entered the Olympic Games on a five-match winning streak, having claimed her second career WTA title a fortnight earlier in Stockholm. It had propelled her closer to a top 20 debut, sitting at a career-high of No.23 at the time.
The unseeded Molik was handed a tough draw, facing fourth seed Elena Dementieva in the opening round. Dementieva, who had won her only previous career meeting against the Australian, had claimed a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
However, Molik scored a three-set victory against the world No.6-ranked Russian.
Molik’s fourth career top-10 win ignited a sensational run, as she stormed into the semifinals without dropping another set.
This included victory over world No.13 Ai Sugiyama of Japan in the quarterfinals. It marked the first time in her career that Molik had defeated two top 20-ranked opponents in the same tournament.
Molik credits her career-best performance to the honour of representing her country on the Olympic Games stage.
“I always loved representing my country and being part of a team,” she explains.
“I was working for something greater than myself. Often you hear players talk about enjoying playing for something bigger or winning a tournament for someone else, and that’s what the Olympics felt like.”
|Molik’s 2004 Olympic run|
|First round||Alicia Molik (AUS) d  Elena Dementieva (RUS)||4-6 6-0 6-3|
|Second round||Alicia Molik (AUS) d Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)||7-5 6-4|
|Third round||Alicia Molik (AUS) d Lisa Raymond (USA)||6-4 6-4|
|Quarterfinals||Alicia Molik (AUS) d  Ai Sugiyama (JPN)||6-3 6-4|
|Semifinals|| Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) d Alicia Molik (AUS)||7-6(8) 6-3|
|Bronze play-off||Alicia Molik (AUS) d  Anastasia Myskina (RUS)||6-3 6-4|
World No.2 Amelie Mauresmo of France ended Molik’s nine-match winning streak in the semifinals.
However, the Australian bounced back strongly in the bronze medal play-off to defeat world No.3-ranked Russian and reigning French Open champion Anastasia Myskina in straight sets.
Her third top-20 win of the event secured Molik’s place on the Olympic dais.
“I’m not an emotional person, but it’s the first time I’ve ever, ever cried after winning a tennis match when I won my bronze medal,” Molik recalls.
“To be honest with you, it did feel like gold. I won something, I was standing on the dais alongside two absolute legends of the sport – Amelie Mauresmo who won silver and Justine Henin took out the gold. It was a phenomenal era of tennis players.”
Molik also made the doubles quarterfinals alongside Rennae Stubbs, where they lost to eventual gold medallists Li Ting and Sun Tiantian of China.
Winning seven matches across the eight-day event, Molik recalls playing in ‘tough’ conditions.
“It was 40 degrees every day, but to do something for Australia I was pretty proud of that moment. It is something I reflect on quite a lot,” she says.
While her Olympic memories are treasured, Molik’s medal is now lost.
“I have been known for hiding things and not remembering where they are,” she admits.
Molik, a three-time Olympian who has been Australia’s Fed Cup captain since 2013, believes the medal could be at her parent’s Adelaide home.
“I remember after winning it I returned home, which at the time was Melbourne, and showcased it to a number of primary schools that I was invited to. I was very happy to do that,” she says.
“I then remember visiting my parents in Adelaide. I thought I took it there and found a great hiding place somewhere in mum and dad’s house. Mum swore I never took it there – but I have a feeling it is somewhere in the roof space. I don’t know why I hid my medal? No one would want it. It has my name on it. There is no need for anyone to steal it.
“I still haven’t found it and it makes me really sad that I don’t know where it is. It is my goal in life now to make sure I find that medal.”