“Esther’s career is one of the most remarkable and outstanding careers in the history of sport. Esther inspires not just people with a disability, but also people without."
The Netherlands’s four-time wheelchair tennis Paralympic champion Esther Vergeer has launched her biography ’Fierce & Vulnerable’ during the USTA Membership Appreciation Day, at the US Open in New York.
For 10 years Vergeer was unbeatable in wheelchair tennis. She went on a 470 match winning streak from January 2003 until her retirement and finished her career with 42 Grand Slam titles, 22 year-end Championships and seven Paralympic titles, made up of four singles and three doubles titles.
Vergeer said: “It’s wonderful, I’m truly honoured that it finally occurred. At such an amazing platform as the US Open. This is the worldwide kick-off I hoped for, the kick-off for my mission to ensure that worldwide, every disabled child will have a chance. A chance to develop through sport.”
In ‘Esther Vergeer - Fierce & Vulnerable’, Vergeer candidly shares her life story interspersed with quotes from people of her inner circle, sporting career and business associates. From her parents to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, from her elementary school teacher to her sponsor, from Johan Cruyff to her opponents in sport.
The biography covers how, as an eight-year-old, she had three internal hemorrhages and ended up on an operating table, as a result of a blood vessel defect.
After the third operation she woke up without sensation in her lower legs and ended up in a wheelchair.
The home front, elementary school, the rehabilitation centre and mostly sport constitute the cornerstones for the acceptation of her impairment.
After playing wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball, Vergeer chose tennis and turned her dreams into action.
She won the unofficial World Championships at the age of 17, a title she went on to retain 13 times in a row.
She then went on to become one of the world’s greatest Paralympic athletes of all-time.
Off the court, she started the Esther Vergeer Foundation, Team ParaStars and took on countless ambassadorships.
In 2002 and 2008 she received the highest global recognition in sport, the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Roger Federer, a winner of 17 Grand Slam titles, said: “She is an amazing athlete, a huge personality and she has achieved one of the most remarkable things in our sport: 470 consecutive wins, unbelievable.
“I have a lot of admiration for what she’s done. She is a professional in everything that she does and is constantly trying to better herself. I know that not only I but also my colleagues at the top have the utmost respect for Esther and the other wheelchair tennis players. It is wonderful to see Esther care about others after she excelled at her tennis career. I try to take that as an example.”
World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic said: “The career of Esther tells me that everything is possible if you truly believe. And that great things can be accomplished if you visualize yourself achieving them and dream big.
“Esther’s career is one of the most remarkable and outstanding careers in the history of sport. Esther inspires not just people with a disability, but also people without. Her charisma motivates everyone she meets to be positive about themselves and about life in general. Esther is a great example of somebody who never gives up, regardless of her disability. I know she will transfer this fighting spirit and love to her foundation and to the philanthropic world.”
The book is available via www.amazon.com