Dylan Alcott posed for selfies and swilled drinks with delirious fans after creating tennis history with a fifth straight Australian Open quad wheelchair singles title.
The Melbourne native downed American David Wagner 6-4 7-6 (7-2) in a repeat of last year’s final and the most recent US Open decider on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.
Victory earned the 28-year-old a seventh grand slam title – but having the final aired live on TV meant so much to Alcott.
.@DylanAlcott: "Today was a really special day."
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2019
“I remember I was 14 years old and I was lying in bed and all I wanted to do was make it in the mainstream in some way,” an emotional Alcott said.
“I wanted to show that people with disability can be elite at what they do.
“I wanted to show them that they could be normal people, get a job, work, have fun, have a partner, do all the things everyone takes for granted.
“This match was broadcast into every single TV in Australia. That meant a lot to me – and it meant a lot to the four and a half million people in Australia with a disability.
“It’s been great for me, but I want it to be great for a lot more people than just me.”
The local hero endured some nervous moments, giving up a 5-2 lead in the second set and sending down two double faults at 5-5.
But the 44-year-old Wagner, a six-time major winner, was unable to keep his momentum going in a tiebreaker dominated by Alcott.
A Paralympic gold medallist in tennis and basketballer who has earned major sponsorship deals and launched a budding media career, Alcott has arguably brought greater visibility to people with disabilities in sport than any other Australian.
In 2016, he was also the first disabled athlete to win the prestigious Newcombe Medal, the highest individual honour in Australian tennis.