It was the Instagram post that changed everything.
Bleary-eyed after an annual awards night, and having consulted with her partner on the way to the car, it was about 3am when Sam Stosur decided to hit send.
Go back to late 2019 and she'd just received the Spirit of Tennis gong at the Australian Tennis Awards, the ceremony which celebrates the year that was in the sport Down Under.
Up on stage as she gave her acceptance speech, Stosur's internal monologue was very different to what was being spouted out loud.
She thanked plenty of people that night and did so again in a lengthy post on social media. Stosur paid tribute to her friends, her coaches, her mentors and her physio. But there was one line that stood out most.
"To my Mum, Dad, Daniel and Dom and my partner Liz, you have given me the love, support and every opportunity to pursue my dream and I'll be forever grateful," it read.
Seems pretty stock standard from an athlete celebrating a major prize these days, but it represented the first time Stosur had publicly acknowledged her partner Liz.
"I accepted that award and got up there and made my speech and as I was going I was like ... 'No, I can't do it'," Stosur tells sports broadcaster Neroli Meadows in the latest episode of her podcast, Ordineroli Speaking, which takes deep dives into the lives of sportsmen and women who have overcome adversity to succeed at the top level.
"Once I stepped off stage I was like, 'What are you doing? You've just accepted this award, thanked all these people and the person who is really with you every single day, the person you have the most candid and open discussions with who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you can't mention them on stage?'
"I was like, 'Nah, that's ridiculous, I don't want to do that anymore'.
"We were walking back to the car to come home and I said, 'I want to do this' and I think I hit send at 3am or something."
Relationship truth a weight off Stosur's shoulders
Stosur's family and friends, those close to her, knew she was gay. But for tennis fans who only get a glimpse of her from the outside, tuning in for grand slams and WTA tournaments, it came as a surprise.
The 2011 US Open champion was 35 when she publicly acknowledged her relationship with Liz for the first time. In the middle of last year, Stosur revealed on Instagram she and Liz had become parents, waiting more than a month after the birth of their daughter Genevieve to break the news.
Of that post after the Newcombe Medal, Stosur tells Meadows: "It actually felt so good just to open up that little bit more and have that truth of my relationship with her (Liz) out there and just to finally say thankyou to her.
"Because she's a huge part of my life firstly, tennis secondly but again all of that ties in together and it just got to the point where I was sick of not being able to acknowledge her, first and foremost, and I wanted to be able to say thanks."
Stosur woke up to a flood of messages from loved ones bursting with pride about her courageous step. It was a long time coming and she says at times she wishes she'd come out earlier.
On a personal level, she had perfectly reasonable fears about being judged or people no longer liking her. On the professional side, the thought even crossed Stosur's mind she may lose sponsors because of her sexuality.
Not that she has any regrets about waiting for the right time to go public, mind you.
"It's just that stigma that's attached to it all, which I think is getting better now, always scared me. Probably just to really open up was always hard for me," Stosur says to Meadows.
"I came close and it was, 'I don't want to deal with this anymore, I'm just going to do it' (but) I never did. I think it's the right time when it happens, so I don't have regrets but I wondered, 'Would things have been a bit different or would things have played out a little bit differently if I'd taken that leap before?'
"You don't realise that (weight) until you get it off your shoulders.
"It's just that little bit of cautiousness around what you do and that becomes tiring and becomes, 'Why did I ever need to do that or why did I feel like I needed to do that' when it could have been a whole lot simpler."
Sam's poignant message a lesson for everyone
As a professional athlete, it can often feel like you're public property. Stosur certainly felt the claustrophobic glow of the spotlight each summer when the Australian Open rolled around, as she faced high expectations at her home grand slam.
The furthest she's got at Melbourne Park is the fourth round. The last time she advanced that far was back in 2010, so for the past decade the scrutiny around her efforts Down Under has been intense.
But whether you're in the public eye or not, Stosur tells Meadows she doesn't believe people owe it to anyone else to share details about their private lives — whether it be related to their sexuality or something else.
For her, being comfortable in your own skin is far more important than catering to other people's expectations or assumptions.
And even for someone of Stosur's life experience, having travelled the world and endured the ups and downs synonymous with life on the professional tennis circuit for nearly two decades, personal development is a never-ending process.
"Even until I put that out on Instagram you go through moments where it's a bit of a struggle … just being comfortable and accepting who you are," Stosur says.
"It's still a work in progress and it's not something that probably ever is really going to go away, it's just part of trying to develop and grow as a person.
"You've just got to be completely honest with yourself. If that's who you are and that's who you want to be, in anything in life, that's all that matters and just enjoy it and embrace all of it."