Melbourne, Australia, 29 October 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Resilience and never giving up on your dreams are two important lessons that Storm Sanders has learnt in her professional playing career.

The 27-year-old has been rewarded in a career-best 2021 season, rising to career-high rankings of No.119 in singles and No.32 in doubles.

Sanders’ sights are now on representing Australia at the upcoming Billie Jean King Cup Finals, after earning selection for the first time in seven years.

“That’s a goal for me, trying to bring home the title for Australia,” Sanders said. “Representing Australia is one of the moments I cherish most and I’m really gratefully for those experiences.”

In our Serving inspiration series, Sanders reflects on her recent achievements and offers advice to inspire others to continue chasing their dreams …

What has been your biggest highlight from 2021?

The Olympics were a childhood dream of mine. For it to become a reality – and to play with Ash (Barty) as well – was absolutely amazing. It was just a really nice moment. We’ve known each other forever and grew up together playing in juniors. In our first match in Tokyo, we were just like ‘wow, isn’t this amazing!’ We had so much fun out there.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in 2021?

The biggest lesson is to take it one week, or even one day, at a time. Every week is very different with the COVID protocols and travelling. I felt if I started overthinking or stressing about getting home, hotel quarantine and missing my family, fiancé and friends, it would become very overwhelming. So for me, I just need to focus on one thing at a time and focus on the job that day – whether that is preparing for a match or what I want to get out of a training session. I had to focus on the present moment, things I could control and not worry about the future.

With travel restrictions making it tough for Australian players to compete internationally this year, how important is the camaraderie between all the Aussies on tour?

We are definitely all looking out for each other. We have group chats to check in on each other. It’s definitely not easy, some days it is super tough and it’s nice to have other players and coaches on the road who are going through it as well. They understand if you’re having a rough day, missing home or that feeling of being stuck. Everyone has been super supportive.

Your doubles partnership with American Caroline Dolehide proved successful this year, reaching the Wimbledon semifinals and US Open quarterfinals. Why do you make a great team?

We are really good friends off the court. We have a lot of things in common and like to hang out, so I think we bring our good relationship onto the court. We have a lot of fun and we keep it relaxed too, we’re often smiling and laughing during our matches. That helps us play our best tennis. It’s nice to share some big moments and amazing memories with someone who is a really good person.

Do you remember the first professional player you met?

I think it might have been Evonne Goolagong Cawley. When I was growing up in Queensland and first started playing tennis, I remember her coming to Rockhampton to hit with some kids and I met her then. I thought that was really cool.

Do you remember the first professional match you saw live?

I never went to the Australian Open as a kid, but I did go to the Hopman Cup in Perth. I can’t remember who was playing though.

How do you hope you can inspire others?

I’ve gone through a lot of injuries and setbacks, so I hope people can take away from my story that you should never give up. Believing in your dreams and yourself is the biggest thing, even when things are not going your way. Stick to it, really work hard and never give up – that’s what I’ve done. I’ve kept going every day, trying to work towards my goals and now I’m playing the best tennis of my life – and there’s still more to come.

Read more in our Serving Inspiration series:
> Lizette Cabrera
> James Duckworth
> Jaimee Fourlis
> Luke Saville
> Astra Sharma
> Ben Weekes