Storm Hunter will make her main-draw debut at Wimbledon, after completing three perfect wins in the qualifying event.
Storm Hunter had already achieved a Wimbledon milestone as a 2021 ladies’ doubles semifinalist – but nothing compared to the accomplishment of winning through ladies’ qualifying to ensure her main-draw singles debut.
“I don’t think I can really put it into words. It’s just really, really special. A special moment for not only me, but my team is well,” beamed the Australian after completing the career first with three impressive match wins in Roehampton.
“To be able to qualify with a lot of my team here, my husband here and just the support of the other Australian staff like (Billie Jean King Cup captain) Alicia Molik … to be able to do it in front of them is really, really special and a dream come true.”
Recording her latest match win over Japan’s world No.125 Nao Hibino in an hour and 18 minutes, Hunter also amassed a sixth straight victory in Grand Slam qualifying.
The hard-working Hunter was also a qualifier at Roland Garros and for the second straight major, was the lone Australian to achieve that feat.
“It’s amazing to be out here in Roehampton (where) the dream is so close, but also so far,” said Hunter of her pressure-filled qualifying campaign, in which she claimed straight-sets wins over British wildcard Mingge Xu and an upset of world No.64 Elina Avanesyan, the tournament’s top seed.
“You really have to go through three tough matches and today was another tough match … it hasn’t really sunk in yet but I’m just so happy to be playing Wimbledon main draw.”
It’s especially significant given Hunter’s earlier career challenges, with injury forcing her to abandon her singles career for a period and concentrate exclusively on doubles. She returned to singles late in 2019.
“You know, (there’s been) a lot of hard years with injury and not thinking I was going to play singles again and even when I came back, just a lot of years on the road by myself as well,” she said.
Still, Hunter built resilience throughout that difficult period, which included losses in the final round of Wimbledon 2021 qualifying and the second round of qualifying last year.
“I kind of used that experience for the better for today and just knew that the match isn’t over until it’s over and used that as motivation,” said Hunter, who secured victory on her fourth match point.
“I definitely didn’t want to be the loser today, that’s for sure.”
Success on the doubles court has helped the transition, with Hunter a winner of six WTA doubles titles and the US Open 2022 mixed doubles with John Peers.
“It’s kind of funny because before Roland Garros I also won Rome doubles and it was such a rush to get to Paris and then it was the same thing here,” Sanders related.
“We reached the final in Birmingham of doubles and was a bit of a rush to get here but it’s kind of the winning strategy at the moment.”
As Hunter targets further progress in her career renaissance, compatriots Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans are considering their next career steps.
Gadecki’s impressive qualifying campaign ended with a straight-sets loss to rising Spaniard Jessica Bouzas Maneiro, while Polmans fell to Germany’s Oscar Otte in four hard-fought sets.
Aussies in action – Wimbledon
Ladies’ qualifying singles, final round
Storm Hunter (AUS) d  Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-3 6-4
Jessica Bouzas Maneiro (ESP) d  Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Gentlemen’s qualifying singles, final round
Oscar Otte (GER) d Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-3 7-6(4) 4-6 7-5
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