In 2021, Dylan Alcott became the first male in history, in any form of tennis to win the Golden Slam – all four grand slams and the Paralympic gold medal in a calendar year. Dylan is one of the most broadly talented athletes and media presenters in the talent market today.
Aspire Talent Group provides talent management services to Australian of the Year Finalist, and 15-time tennis Grand Slam singles champion, Dylan Alcott OAM.
Dylan is an accomplished athlete, speaker, media commentator, brand ambassador and advocate for people living with a disability.
Given the scale of Dylan’s popularity and the mark of his achievements, it is hard to contend with the fact that only seven years ago Dylan Alcott, the 2022 Victorian Australian of the Year, was on a disability pension. Here was this prodigiously talented, intelligent, and charismatic guy forced to sit in a Centrelink queue.
It’s tough to rationalise how someone who can command the attention of the whole country when he takes a mic, couldn’t rouse a win at interview along the way?
For Dylan, blessed with sporting talent that has taken him to four Paralympic Games in basketball and tennis, and to world number one in both codes, sport was his ticket off that disability scheme and into the better life he dreamed of as a young adolescent in a wheelchair.
In his own words “…sport saved my life.”
In a sports industry breaming with tales of hardship and battling the odds, Dylan Alcott has proven over his first 31 years that he is as tough as any of his compatriots whose feats on the field of play have earned them legendary status. Where athletes tend to measure their career success by the size of their trophy cabinet, you quickly realise that when it comes to Dylan, the balance of his awe-inspiring legacy somehow finds a way around his on-court, cross-code heroics, with a determined tilt toward his mounting profile as a game-changer off it. It’s hard to imagine that a guy who in 2021 became the first ever male tennis player in history to win the Golden Slam – victory at every Grand Slam event in a calendar year – won’t ever be most famous for that achievement.
Says Dylan: “I would be wasting my life if I won 20 grand slams and that’s all I did. I love the ability to help people. I don’t get out of bed every day to play to win a tennis tournament, I honestly don’t. I do it because I love it, but it also provides me with a platform to do what I really want; which is to continue to change the perceptions around disability.”
Dylan is clearly very comfortable in the public domain. But it was never fame that was the driving force behind his ambition. At every turn, it has been about putting himself in a position where he can become the empowering force for Australian’s living with a disability.
It is tough to understand the origins of Dylan’s immense drive and determination, without first acknowledging his gallant march through what was a very dire prognosis at birth. Dylan came into the world with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord that would rob him forever of the use of his legs, but only fleetingly through adolescence, of his confidence and passion for living his best life. Ironically it wasn’t until he was sourcing material for his autobiography in 2018 that his parents Martin and Resie revealed the true extent of his close-call with death. At just three days old, Dylan had contracted an infection which forced doctors to administer a shot of steroids that was either going to save him or kill him. Against the odds, Dylan came through. It is thought by those closest to him, that those early years in hospital built resilience, independence, and a purpose in Dylan that has fuelled his vast achievements. His Dad writes him a card each year proudly noting that the 12 months just gone will be a hard one to top…and yet Dylan continually seems to find a way.
In his famed keynote, Dylan tells of how he was bullied through adolescence and often excluded from parties even by his closest mates because they feared he wouldn’t be able to tackle stairs and other obstacles in their home.
As a youngster, he would often remark to his parents that he was frustrated by not being able to connect with a role model in the public domain because quite simply, there was no one like him. And so it became his main ambition to become a presenter in mainstream media. In what has become an almost predictable outcome for Dylan’s personal mission list, he’s a sports commentator and host on the Nine Network, he’s the Co-creator and Host of the popular ListenABLE podcast, and he’s a Logie winner for Best New Talent as host of ABCs ‘The Set’. The final frontier, according to Dylan, is a starring role in a popular television drama series…oh, and his own US talk show.
In the eight years since his re-entry into the sport of tennis, Dylan Alcott has built a storied career. His inexhaustible work ethic has taken him to number one in the world, he’s won tennis’ holy grail with the Golden Slam, and he’s made history by becoming the first athlete with a disability to win Tennis Australia’s highest individual honour, the Newcombe Medal (2016, 2021).
It was 2018 when Dylan was announced as ANZs key ambassador for the Australian Open – a world-first, industry-defining play for the disability sports movement, and for the sports marketing industry more broadly. He’d had to unseat Novak Djokovic to get there, and given the prominence of the campaign, by the back end of Melbourne’s scorching summer of tennis you would have been hard-pressed finding an Aussie who didn’t know who Dylan Alcott was.
In fact, commercially, Dylan has built a list of partners that would humble every other athlete in this country – joining ANZ is Nike, NEC, Mable, Kia, BOSE, Coca-Cola, Longines, Young Henrys and OCS. He understands better than most that the notion of ‘influence’ extends beyond a cleverly-crafted Instagram post – though he’s pretty handy at that too. Dylan comprehends that, at its core, and with his grand motivation in view, influence means hanging back after training to sign autographs for the 200+ eager young fans who have watched him rip backhands in 40-degree heat for the past hour.
One of Dylan’s greatest legacies is the establishment of AbilityFest – a music concert that welcomes people of all ages and ability to let their hair down and enjoy a full weekend of music. In November 2021, AbilityFest enjoyed its best program yet, raising over $300,000 for scholarship programs to support young Australians with a disability.
Dylan’s best-selling autobiography, Able, a tome about celebrating and embracing difference, perfectly captures the fearless philosophy Dylan lives by, and the message he remains determined to spread. Says Dylan: “More people need to be proud of their disability instead of shying away from it because as soon as I became proud of it, I started dating, I started playing sport, everything happened.”
Dylan Alcott is a man of exceptional character. He has an infectious personality which reveals a quick wit and an enormous heart.
If you ever want to show someone the perfect illustration of what it means to be Australian, sit them down to listen to what Dylan Alcott offers up after he wins another tennis grand slam. Or watch as he initiates a spirited high-five with a young kid in a wheelchair when they pass one another at the airport. This great showman of Australian tennis just also happens to be the most humble human you will ever meet.