'You Can’t Be What You Can’t See': Dylan Alcott’s Push To Bring Awareness To Disabilities Is Not Stopping Anytime Soon
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Dylan Alcott is a f**king legend.
I mean, not to state the bloody obvious, but he really is.
Everything he's achieved on the court speaks for itself, but it's what he does away from tennis which really separates him from your bog standard athlete.
Alcott's continued push to bring more awareness to disabilities - not just within sport, but in all walks of life - is nothing short of remarkable.
And even now that he's now officially retired, don't expect that to stop anytime soon.
Whether it's with a racquet-in-hand or effortlessly skolling beers from the shiny trophies he's just won, Alcott is just box office entertainment.
But even though he fell agonisingly short of a victory in his last ever tennis match last night, that doesn't mean it still wasn't a fairytale finish for the recently-crowned Australian of the Year.
"I'm dusty, but I deserve to be dusty I reckon," Alcott told SPORTbible Australia.
"I'm alright, I don't care that I lost because that one loss isn't going to define me. I'm just the luckiest bloke going around to be honest.
"I was pretty cooked after last year doing the Golden Slam. I wanted to do it one more time and retire on home soil, but I just ran out of juice at the end there - I'm still smiling though.
"Normally when you lose a big match like that, you're gutted. I wasn't gutted. It's a beautiful thing to know that tennis isn't my life. It was a major part of my life, but it's not everything. I think when you realise that and you find your true purpose it puts everything into perspective.
"That said, it was an epic crowd at the Australian Open final with a massive TV audience, it was just unbelievably special."
Golden Slam wheelchair winner Dylan Alcott is chugging beer out of his US Open trophy :joy:
:movie_camera: @usopen pic.twitter.com/pYh2CMQdtq
- The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 12, 2021
His time as a professional tennis player (yes, he's the GOAT) may be over, but that doesn't mean Alcott is planning on putting his goals on pause.
There have been thousands of questions asking what his next move is, but regardless of what that answer may be, Alcott's single hope of bringing awareness to disabilities will not ever stop.
"Bloody oath I'm not stopping that push," he said.
"You cannot be what you cannot see. The best way to learn about people and disabilities is through lived experiences.
"The key is representation - not just in sport. On our televisions, in our boardrooms, in our school classrooms, in our hospitals, on our dating apps - absolutely everywhere. And if I can play a small role in that, then I've done what I was meant to do.
"My purpose 10 years ago is the same as what it is today: To change the perception of people with disabilities so that they can live the lives they deserve to live. I just know I don't have to play tennis anymore to do that."
Alcott is one of Australia's most-loved athletes, but he's also held in pretty high regard by sporting giants Nike too.
And to celebrate the true blue Aussie's incredible career, Nike is partnering with the Dylan Alcott Foundation to support an emerging disabled athlete that Alcott will personally scout and train himself.
"We just got an incredible grant off Nike where we're going to do a partnership that helps young athletes across the country get the opportunities that I've had," he said.
"I'm, very excited about the work where hopefully we can find some more little Dylans and give them the chance to one day play on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open.
"When it comes to Nike, for the biggest company in the world to put a bloke in a wheelchair at the front of their brand is just epic. For anyone I partner with, they have to believe in my ethos and that's what I love about Nike. They're daring trailblazers who care about inclusion and diversity - they urge everyone to be proud of who they are and I love that. I feel like a massive part of their family.
"Also, I'm just a fan of the brand - I've got 400 pairs of sneakers and I can't even walk!"
Having been a full-time athlete since he was 14 years old, starting off in wheelchair basketball, Alcott admits he'll sleep well at night knowing his decision to retire was the right one.
He even made a point of saying he'll continue watching tennis regularly - with a beer in hand, of course.
But like all iconic sports stars who have come and gone, his impact and legacy will undoubtedly continue on for years to come.
"The best advice I've been given is to recognise the power in authenticity," Alcott said.
"Be yourself. I used to hate myself so much. I hated my disability and didn't want to be here anymore, but as soon as I became proud of my difference - which was hard - everything started changing for me. I got more confidence, I got more opportunities, I got more friends.
"It can be scary doing that, being fully vulnerable and putting yourself on the line, but there's power in it.
"The best advice I can give to anyone is that as soon as you let go of trying to be someone you're not, you'd be surprised at how many opportunities comes your way."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: Tennis news, Dylan Alcott, Australian Open, Australia