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Jordanne Whiley: Preparing to make Wimbledon history

She’s the most decorated female tennis player of all time, an eight time Grand Slam champion and a Paralympic star, but this summer is arguably Jordanne Whiley’s biggest yet. Not only will she defend her doubles title at Wimbledon, but the wheelchair tennis ace has her sights firmly set on making history by becoming the tournament’s first ever wheelchair singles champion.

When we caught up with Jordanne ahead of Wimbledon, she’d just returned from competing at the French Open. A strong first half of the year has seen her take the doubles crown at the French Open alongside her partner and best friend, Japan’s Yui Kamiji, but when asked about her season so far, the athlete is modest.

“I’ve won a few tournaments so far this year, we won the doubles at Roland Garros and I reached the final in the singles,” she says. “I took on the world number one in the singles and I only narrowly missed out. Roland Garros is a clay court which I find the most difficult surface to play on and it had been raining which makes things harder, so I was really proud to go right to the end.

“Overall my season has been going really well, I’m in good shape and I’ve stayed injury free so that’s always a plus!”

Of course, avoiding injury is a good thing for any athlete, but perhaps more so for Jordanne who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bone disease. It’s meant she’s broken her legs 26 times and doctors told her she’d never play sport, but with the fierce determination that saw her become Britain’s youngest ever national women’s singles champion, Jordanne proved them wrong. She’s had a meteoric rise in wheelchair tennis and is now focused on success at Wimbledon and the Paralympics.

“Wimbledon is my favourite tournament to play in,” Jordanne explains. “It’s so prestigious and obviously it’s on home soil so it’s the most important one for me. This year it feels more important than ever because it’s the first time there will be a singles event.”

It’s a monumental year for Wimbledon, being the first time in its 139 year history that the All England Club will host a Grand Slam for the singles format of wheelchair tennis. However, Jordanne believes it’s being introduced at the right time.

She says: “Some people have criticised Wimbledon for not introducing the singles sooner, but it hasn’t been right until now. The grass was so tough and I don’t think it would’ve given the right impression of the sport. Now though, the standard of the wheelchair tennis singles is so high that it’s right to introduce it, and hopefully people will sit up and take note.”

Jordanne and partner Yui will also defend their Wimbledon doubles title, which they’ve held for the past two years, before potentially facing each other in the battle for the singles crown. So does Jordanne feel prepared?

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” she says, “and I’m training on the grass courts for two hours every day now. I usually train longer than that, but playing on grass is really tough on your shoulders so I can’t play for as long. The rain had ruined the grass courts so we’ve had to wait a bit, but I just can’t wait to get out there properly.

“I’m looking forward to defending my title with Yui, but it would be another dream come true to win the singles. I’d be the first ever person to hold that title at Wimbledon, and who wouldn’t want to make history? That’s my focus now.”

Fish Insurance is a proud sponsor of Jordanne Whiley.

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