Sydney, Australia, 7 November 2020 | Leigh Rogers

Sally Fitzgibbons is an Australian professional surfer. The 29-year-old has competed on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour for more than a decade, becoming the youngest to ever qualify for the tour at age 17. She has won multiple events across the globe and topped the world rankings. Fitzgibbons is also a qualified personal trainer and created her own foundation to inspire the next generation to live active and healthy lives.

In our Celebrity Match series, Fitzgibbons reveals she is big tennis fan too …

Tell us about your tennis experience. Have you ever played?

Loveeee tennis, but I am majorly rusty on the skill set as I only played as a grom. Tennis lessons as an eight to 10 year old were the bees knees at the Werri Beach courts.

What is your best shot and why?

I’m going to say any shot that stays in the court and gets over the net is my best shot! I’m going to back my defensive slice as my go-to to keep me in the point. I tell myself: “Just get it back, Fitzy.”

What is your earliest tennis memory?

My earliest memory is playing as an eight-year-old and running down from school with my over-sized racquet bag bouncing around on my back. I was so stoked!

Do you have a favourite tennis memory?

Coming down to Australian Open to watch live every year is always a highlight. One year I was only supposed to stay for the afternoon session, but I ended up pulling an all-nighter to watch Roger Federer play Rafael Nadal in an epic midnight match. I went straight to the airport and slept on the benches, then caught the 6am flight back to Sydney. It’s been unbelievable to tick off some bucket-list type sporting experiences – like being in a box to watch Federer at the US Open and soaking in the beauty of watching live on centre court at the French Open, but the AO is the best event, hands down.

Do you remember the first professional match you saw live? Who played?

My first ever live match was at the Australian Open, watching Maria Sharapova play in the semifinals. I was a frothing grom and I had the best day. I naturally bought my souvenir towel and have been buying them ever since. I take them on the world surfing tour with me to change into my wetsuits. I feel a good energy wrapped in the Aussie Open tennis towel and it makes me feel at home in different countries.

Who is your favourite tennis player to watch?

My all-time favourite is Roger Federer. It was very special to meet him and have a chat in Perth. Sitting down on court for his practice session gave me an extra appreciation for the skills on hand. Serena Williams walked out to practice next, which was also epic. Seeing how hard they hit in person is unbelievable.

If you could meet any player, who would it be and why?

I have met some of the greats of the game and they have all left a huge impression and been so inspiring. I’m still yet to meet Simona Halep. I think she has an amazing work ethic and love for the game. I would love to do a fitness session with her one day and ask questions on how she has built such strong foundations.

Finish these sentences …

The best part of the Australian Open is … sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the tennis greats and sharing the love of the game. And when the stadium goes quiet, all anticipating and respecting the next rally to be played.

Tennis is fun because … you will never see the same shot twice, just like in surfing where every wave is different. There are an infinite amount of combinations and experiences to be had on the court.

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