Wheelchair tennis is a sport that demands a will power and determination at its biggest magnitude. We take a look at ladies who overcame major hurdles by winning Major titles over the years on the women’s wheelchair tennis tour.
1) Chantal Vandierendonck
Chantal Vandierendonck is a Dutch wheelchair tennis player. A former World No.1, Chantal was at her prime form in the 80s and 90s. A traffic accident in 1983 injured Chantal seriously. As a result, she was bound to the wheelchair. She decided to convert her disability into an achievement by getting into wheelchair tennis and paced her way to the top in National rankings. When wheelchair tennis was demonstrated for the first time in 1988 at the Paralympic Games, Chantal won the gold medal. She continued her success in the future Paralympic games at Barcelona and Atlanta. Chantal was also a very good doubles player and has two gold medals in that category. She won the world championships in 1991,1996 and 1997. She stayed at the World No.1 spot for 136 weeks.
2) Monique Kalkmam Van den Bosch
When she was 14, Monique Kalkman was diagnosed with cancer. Physical abilities were compromised and she became paraplegic. She took up wheelchair tennis and five years later was rewarded as the first Paralympic champion. She is a gold and silver medalist in both singles and doubles paralymic games that were held at Seould, Barcelona and Atlanta. She was the world champion from 1992-1995. Kalkman has won 42 other titles apart from the paralympic games. These include 4 US Open titles, 5 French Open titles and 2 Australian Open titles. She called it a day in 1997 and since then is a golfer.
3) Esther Vergeer
At the age of 6, Esther Vergeer felt dizzy in one of her swimming lessons. Fluids filled up her brain. She was treated for it but 4 years later she had severe headaches, pressure behind her eyes and pain in the neck. She later developed pain around the groin and even had a stroke. She was diagnosed with vascular myelopathy around the spinal cord. The operation was successful but Esther was left paralyzed.
Esther Vergeer is considered to be the best wheelchair tennis player in the history of the game. Here is the reason why Esther Vergeer is the G.O.A.T. in wheelchair tennis:
- Won 42 grand slams (singles and doubles)
- Won the year-end championships 22 times
- 7 paralympic titles
- Held the world no.1 position from 1999 till her retirement in February 2013 (668 weeks)
- Holds a winning streak of 470 matches
- She has won 687 matches and lost only 25
- 148 singles titles, 136 doubles titles
4) Jiske Griffioen
Jiske Griffioen is yet another Dutch wheelchair tennis player. Born with spina bifida, Griffioen is a 14-time grand slam doubles champion and a three time paralympic medalist. She has twice completed her career grand slam in doubles. She is also a 7-times Masters doubles champion. Griifioen reached the summit of the rankings in 2015. The four-time wheelchair ladies’ singles champion is placed at No.4 in the singles rankings as of March 2023.
5) Diede de Groot
Diede de Groot is the World No.1 in singles and doubles as of March 2023. The legendary Dutch began playing wheelchair tennis at the age of 7. Born with an unequal leg length, de Groot, by the age of 26 has won combined 33-major titles in both singles and doubles. She completed a calendar slam in singles in 2021 and 2022, and in 2019 in the doubles discipline. De Groot was the Paralympic gold medallist in both singles and doubles in 2021. She completed tennis’ first ever Super Slam in 2021, winning all Majors in singles, the Paralympic Gold and the Masters singles title.
6) Yui Kamiji
Yui Kamiji is arguably the greatest non-Dutchwoman in wheelchair tennis. A 2014 Calendar Slam winner in doubles, Kamiji is a former No.1 who has won 8 singles Majors and 18 doubles Majors. In 2013, she won the Masters title in both singles and doubles. Placed at World No.2 in the singles rankings as of March 2023, Kamiji has been a silver medallist in singles and bronze medallist in doubles in the Paralympics.