“On behalf of the entire Paralympic Movement, I would like to congratulate Esther on her unparalleled and historic career, as without a doubt she will go down in Paralympic history as one of the greatest athletes of all time."
Following wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer’s retirement announcement on Tuesday (12 February), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven would like to extend his congratulations to the Dutch star on her tremendous career and for transforming the sport of wheelchair tennis.
For more than a decade, Vergeer has dominated the sport of wheelchair tennis, with eight Paralympic titles and 42 Grand Slam titles to her name.
Sir Philip Craven said: “On behalf of the entire Paralympic Movement, I would like to congratulate Esther on her unparalleled and historic career, as without a doubt she will go down in Paralympic history as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
“To win 470 consecutive matches on the court and go unbeaten for 10 years is a remarkable feat. During her career, Esther has given a face to the sport of wheelchair tennis and helped increase awareness for the Paralympics not just in the Netherlands, but throughout sporting communities around the world.
“On the court, she has been at the top of the world rankings since October 2000, and off it her efforts go just as far, having established Team ParaStars, a team of Dutch Paralympians she has helped to attain larger profiles and fan bases in their country by working with grassroots programmes and charities.
“Throughout the entire duration of her career, Esther has embodied the Paralympic Spirit, and it has been a true honour to watch her play and I hope she continues to stay closely connected to the Paralympic Movement in the future.”
Vergeer has been playing wheelchair tennis since the age of 12 after surgery on her spinal cord went wrong.
A former national standard wheelchair basketball player, she eventually made the decision to pursue tennis instead, and played her first tournament in 1994. Vergeer became world No. 1 for the first time in 1999 and has gone on to dominate the sport ever since, having been named ITF Wheelchair World Champion for the last 13 years.