Sally Fitzgibbons handed 2023 WSL wildcard

Melissa WoodsAAP
Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has been given a wildcard to compete in 2023 WSL events.
Camera IconAustralian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has been given a wildcard to compete in 2023 WSL events. Credit: AAP

Fan favourite Sally Fitzgibbons has won a World Surf League reprieve, gaining a wildcard to compete in 2023.

The Australian Olympian was the most high-profile casualty of the new WSL format, which saw the women's field cut to just 10 after last week's Margaret River Pro.

A three-time runner-up in the overall world title race, Fitzgibbons was ranked 15th after being eliminated in the round of 16 in Western Australia.

The WSL announced two wildcards on Tuesday with American Caroline Marks earning one to compete in all tour events for the remainder of the 2022 season and the first half of 2023.

Marks is currently ranked 19th but the 20-year-old only competed in the Billabong Pro Pipeline in February, where she was an early elimination before taking personal leave.

Fitzgibbons, 31, was granted the 2023 WSL season wildcard, which means she will surf the first half of the next CT season and will be the first replacement for the rest of this year.

She celebrated her wildcard by winning through to the quarter-finals of the Gold Coast Pro at Snapper Rocks on Tuesday.

Surfers cut from the championship tour are competing in the second-tier challenger tour opener this week with Fitzgibbons scoring 14.84 out of 10 in her round of 16 heat to defeat American Kirra Pinkerton (9.03).

Two-time world champion Tyler Wright was one of four other Australians to reach the women's quarters along with Nikki van Dijk, Molly Picklum and Bronte Macaulay.

Fitzgibbons will face American Gabriela Bryan in the last eight, while Wright takes on Picklum in an all-Australian affair.

In the men's draw, Julian Wilson's surfing return has continued with the Sunshine Coast product one of eight Australians through to the last 16.

The event is expected to wrap up on Wednesday with the next call scheduled for Wednesday.

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