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January 25, 2022

Dylan Alcott

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

D. ALCOTT/A. Lapthorne

6-3, 6-0

DYLAN ALCOTT: How is everyone?

THE MODERATOR: Another grueling performance on court. Talk to us about how you were feeling out there.

DYLAN ALCOTT: Yeah, I felt better than I did the other day. I tried to lean in a bit more, have some more fun, which I was happy about.

Andy is always a tough opponent. We had some great battles here at the Australian Open. We had a really nice embrace at the end where he said, Thanks for everything, thanks so much for changing his life, my life. We were the first to play on the big courts here, Grand Slam final, first Grand Slam to do it. It was against Andy.

He's always been a great competitor and a good guy. I remember I beat him in the gold medal game in Rio. Of all the bars in Rio, our families went to the same one. We all had beers together. Even though he'd lost. How cool is that? All my mates, all his mates.

It was nice to get to play him here. Happy to get the job done relatively quickly.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk us through your itinerary, when do you leave, get back, what do the next 48 hours look like for you?

DYLAN ALCOTT: A bit going on (smiling).

I came to press, I hadn't showered off court because I got to go. So I got to eat, get treatment, chuck on a suit. We are flying to Canberra at 4. The awards, the winner is Patty Mills, then I fly home. Yeah, have to be home tonight.

Look, all the nine nominees for Australian of the Year -- nine? -- are amazing. I honestly think I was making up the numbers.

I talked to my team. I was like, Look, if by the very odd chance you have a win, you cannot do that on Zoom. So many people with disability should have won that award over the years but haven't. It would just be -- I would never forgive myself if I don't go, even though I don't think I'm going to get up. I'm going to go. I always do stuff like this. I commentate 16 hours a day in the lead-up, then I play this tournament. I'm always wrecked. That's just me.

I love getting amongst life and having a crack. Cool story. When they announce someone else's name, I'll listen to the speech, then just walk straight out onto a plane and come home (laughter).

Q. Playing a semi, amazing honor there, then a final. What are you more proud of, on-the-court stuff or off?

DYLAN ALCOTT: Definitely off-court stuff. Not awards, none of that. Like you saw on my social media, the post of a little kid did the toss and we fist pumped. Then a tweet from a young woman called Hannah who is in a wheelchair who said, I just can't believe I'm seeing two people like me in prime time doing what they love. That just didn't happen when we were young. That stuff, that's my purpose is changing perceptions so people with disability can live the lives they want to live.

I'm not downgrading what tennis has done for me. It's given me that platform to do it. I'm forever grateful. It makes playing tennis, I'm a better tennis player because of that. I love winning obviously, but it's not everything to me. The other stuff means more, so I can actually enjoy when I play tennis. It's not the be-all end-all of my life. I've got to remind myself of that.

Obviously I'll be emotional and nervous and stuff on Thursday. It's not just another match, it's a celebration of how awesome this is. I've got to try to lean into that.

Q. What about compartmentalizing it? When you're playing tennis, especially today, potentially something really huge is happening tonight, are you able to go, Right, it's tennis?

DYLAN ALCOTT: 5-Love I thought about tonight (laughter). What did I do? Had a shit point, played a double-fault. I'm not going to lie. Pretty lucky having a 5-Love. I didn't think about it at all the whole match. I was like, Good boy. I was really proud of myself.

Yeah, I'm good at that. I wasn't good at that. Working with a guy named Ben Crowe helped me with that. Where I stay in the moment, think about what I'm doing, enjoy it, things like that.

Yeah, I got through it. Geez, I'm glad it's not on Thursday, though. If that was on Thursday, both on Thursday, I would have been in all sorts, in all sorts.

I got lucky with the schedule.

Q. Doubles?

DYLAN ALCOTT: Probably won't try to do both again. I don't know. It's today, thank God. I was proud of myself for not thinking about it. I haven't even done a speech. I've done nothing. I haven't thought about it at all and I don't think I need to. I'm going with that. I'll wing it if by the very odd chance I get up.

Q. Given your profile has never been bigger in Australia, what would it mean if on the off chance you did win it? What would that mean to so many people?

DYLAN ALCOTT: Look, people with disability have always been viewed as second-class citizens compared to non-disabled people. It's just an unconscious bias that people have. We can all say it's not there, but it is. You know what I mean? It's always been there. We don't get jobs, we don't get asked on dates, we don't get opportunities like other people because people think we can't do it.

I hope it means a lot to a lot of people. Even just being nominated. So many people with disabilities have been nominated in the past, I'm like, They ain't going to win. Kurt Fearnley I thought was a shoo-in. He lost to very worthy people. I'm not downgrading anyone who has won it.

I'm always like, It would just be so cool for a person with disability to get up there and be able to have that. Been Young Australian of the Year, Senior, all that, just not many Australians of the Year.

Also to be given that platform to talk about what you're passionate about is super cool. Grace Tame has just taken that to another level. What a weapon, what a legend.

Whoever wins it is in trouble because they're not going to be as good as her, first and foremost. To be able to get up there and talk about what you're passionate about would be pretty cool, try and live out your purpose through that.

But awards are funny because you have no control over it/what do they even mean? You can still do your purpose every day regardless if you win that. You know what I mean?

You can't think about it like you want to win it. I don't even know anything about it, how you do it, who votes, anything about it. All you can do is be you every day, that's I all I am. If I won that, I would be humbled, honored, forever grateful. But, again, there's no point talking about it because I don't think I have any chance.

Yeah, I'm going to go. It's going to be awesome. I'll be tired. Geez, I'll sleep well tonight, I'll tell you that much. It will good.

Q. How are the energy levels?

DYLAN ALCOTT: I'm, like, 100% cooked. Like cooked. But I'm always cooked. I won an Australian Open on a drip every night in hospital, which I wrote about in my book, because I'm an idiot, like an idiot. But that's what I do. I'm not on a drip right now so I'm going better than that (smiling). But that's how I want to do it.

Even just seeing a guy in a wheelchair doing an on-court interview after a big match, interviewing Zverev. It's not like how cool is that. I'm not like how cool am I. I'm like how cool is that. I don't want to be the only one. I want more of that.

I remember it was live on Eurosport, so many people in Europe sent me that. How sick, this kid in a wheelchair is interviewing a 6'6" giant. It just looked aesthetically cool, but also breaks down barriers.

I'll never stop doing that. Even when I retire, as I said, people are like, Why are you retiring? You just won 6-3, 6-Love. My purpose is not, remember, winning gold medals and Grand Slams. I feel like I've done everything do in tennis to live out my purpose. So it's on to the next thing now.

Q. A tennis question. Sam up next. From a tennis point of view, how do you look at that game? If tonight wasn't on, what would the next 48 hours entail preparation-wise?

DYLAN ALCOTT: I would get the hell out of here as fast as I could because I've pretty much lived here for the last week and relax.

I'm fond of Canberra, I love doing that stuff, that makes me play better tennis. I have a podcast, radio, TV, consulting firm, foundation. I do all this stuff. That keeps me fresh.

When I'm at tennis, I love it but, yeah, it's not the ideal prep. Let's be honest. But whatever. I'll suck it up, do my best. I am gutted my best mate Heath didn't win today. That would have been fairytale, fairytale stuff. Playing on Rod Laver Arena together.

But Sam, he is a legend. He is the Next Gen. The current gen, to be honest. He's going to take the reins hopefully after Thursday, hopefully not before Thursday. What a way to go out? All I want it to be is a great match, a great showcase, and enjoy it.

I think we'll put on a show.

Q. Let's say you did get the award, is that going to be the absolute pinnacle for you? You were saying about your achievements on court. But to have also achieved the Golden Slam, how would you distinguish?

DYLAN ALCOTT: The biggest achievement for me is just being a happy bloke with a great life, to be honest. I don't really buy into this all that much. I used to. I used to want this stuff to make myself feel worthy of able-bodied people. I had to win everything to prove, look at us, look at disabled people, we can do it. I'm not like that anymore. I'm just me.

It would be amazing. I have a few trophies at home. Not many. My mum's got some. Do you know what the number one trophy people love is? The Logie. My Logie. I don't know why. People come over, Wimbledon, French Open, is that a Logie? Pick it up. I reckon Australian of the Year will be behind a Logie. I don't know how that's possible.

Look, we'll talk about it tomorrow. I don't know. Because I don't think it's going to happen. I haven't really thought about it. Yeah, mate, it would be epically humbling. There's been like, what, 50 Australians of the year ever, whatever? It would be amazing.

Yeah, as I said, I haven't thought much about it because I don't think it's happening.

Q. Let's just say, play devil's advocate, and it does, when winners have had this award, like Grace Tame, they've been very outspoken and vocal. Do you see yourself going in that sort of a line as well?

DYLAN ALCOTT: Mate, I'm just going to keep being me. You know me, I've been vocal in the past when I feel the time is right. I'll never stop advocating for my community ever, award or not. Awards like this shouldn't and won't change you. And it won't. I'm just going to be me.

Yeah, of course I'll stand up for the people that I love and I'll forever do that, Australian of the Year or not. Good attempt trying to get the scoop, though. I like it (laughter).

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