Australian Open 2022: New South Wales tennis player Ellen Perez keen to make her mark on court, social media

Australian tennis player Ellen Perez has a cult social media following but it is on the court where she is desperate to make her mark

Ellen Perez ticked a lot of boxes in a breakout 2021 season.

She qualified for a grand slam in singles for the first time at Wimbledon, and represented Australia in doubles at the Olympics – alongside Sam Stosur – and the Billie Jean King Cup.

With Venus Williams not coming to Australia, Perez is a strong contender for the last Australian Open singles wildcard.

But off the court, the New South Wales tennis player also broke the news about Wimbledon and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza having an Olympic tattoo.

Welcome to the Ellen Perez experience.

After captivating Tennis Twitter with her quarantine shenanigans 12 months ago – swimming in a bathtub, running marathons and trolling bratty tennis stars – she spent last year cultivating the relationship.

“I’ve always loved a bit of banter and joking around, and sometimes I’m the person who’s giving away free stuff,” Perez said.

“As tennis players, we obviously work hard but we have a fair bit of free time when we get home and I just enjoy getting amongst it online.”

There were ticket giveaways, Q&A sessions and strong opinions on topics from Peng Shuai to Piers Morgan’s criticism of Emma Raducanu and even government quarantine rules.

Perez also took someone to task for a mean tweet about American player Shelby Rogers.

Ellen Perez is aiming to break into the top 100 in singles. Picture: Mark Stewart
Ellen Perez is aiming to break into the top 100 in singles. Picture: Mark Stewart

One of her giveaways went down a wormhole of what fans would give in return, including tickets on public transport in Poland, as well as to the World Chicken Festival, hockey, theatre and more.

But the accidental Muguruza reveal was as entertaining as anything else.

“I didn’t realise it was such a big deal,” Perez said.

“We were talking about who had Olympic tattoos and I just knew Muguruza had one, because I’d seen it in the locker room.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Wait, where’s the tattoo?’ … and people suddenly said she liked to cover up her tattoos and they’re always very, very hard to see.”

None of this is to suggest Perez, 26, isn’t serious about her tennis. In fact, the opposite is true.

Ellen Perez made the Tokyo Olympics women’s doubles quarter-finals with Sam Stosur. Picture: Getty Images
Ellen Perez made the Tokyo Olympics women’s doubles quarter-finals with Sam Stosur. Picture: Getty Images

A top-50 doubles player, she is desperate to carve out a successful singles career, too, and believes she can if she solves the riddle of why she gets so nervous on the biggest stages.

One example was Perez’s Wimbledon debut last year, when the chatter around her that she had a gilt-edged chance against a fellow qualifier ended up playing tricks on her mind.

A strong finish to the season propelled her back inside the top 200 and onto the Australian Open wildcard radar, with her focus on performing well in a Melbourne lead-in event.

“We’ve got so many girls so close who’ve had such a good year and everyone’s putting up their hand for their own reasons,” Perez said.

“I’m definitely prepared to play qualifying but if I was to get one, that’s just a bonus.”

Originally published as Australian Open 2022: New South Wales tennis player Ellen Perez keen to make her mark on court, social media

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