“Everyone goes into win gold, and I am no different.”
Great Britain’s Gordon Reid and the Netherlands’ Jiske Griffioen became the first ever wheelchair tennis players to lift the Wimbledon singles trophies, as they won the men’s and women’s titles, respectively.
This year marked the first time wheelchair singles competitions were featured in Wimbledon, which had before only held doubles events since 2005.
In the third Grand Slam of the year, and the last one before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Reid topped Sweden’s Stefan Olsson 6-1, 6-4 for his second career Slam title on Sunday (10 July); Reid’s first Slam victory came earlier this season in Australia.
“Doesn’t feel real, to be honest, right now,” Reid said. “A Wimbledon title is always going to be unbelievable, but to be the first ever in the singles event – I’m never going to forget that.”
The 24-year-old came through his singles matches in style without dropping a set throughout the tournament. However, at the near moment of victory the nerves took hold. Serving on his first match point for the title went badly - a double fault. But there was a second chance that delivered success.
“It’s just the moment got to me a little bit,” Reid said. “I let a little bit of doubt creep into my mind. My arm got a little bit tense. I didn’t go very fast through either of those serves. [I] just cleared my head, pushed back up for the second one. Just picked my spot and hit it well. The rest is history.”
Reid also picked up his first Wimbledon doubles crown with fellow Briton Alfie Hewett on Saturday (9 July).
“To do the same thing as Serena Williams at a Slam is a pretty big achievement,” Reid admitted. “To win yesterday with Alfie, my partner for Rio is a big moment for us. Amazing for him at 18-years-old. Then the singles today just topped it off, topped it off pretty nicely.”
In the women’s side, Griffioen captured her fourth title on Saturday (9 July), her most recent from the 2016 Australian Open. But this win was different because it came on the grass at Wimbledon after the wheelchair players spent a number of years campaigning to play singles at the All England Club.
“I think we proved this week that singles on grass is really possible,” said Griffioen, who bounced back from a first-set loss to defeat compatriot Aniek van Koot 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the finals. “It’s not easy. It’s hard. But I think we’ll all improve our games and we’ll get even better on the grass.”
The victory increased 31-year-old Griffioen’s winning record over Van Koot to a stunning 24-12. This was the eighth time they played in a Grand Slam with Van Koot winning their first four meetings between 2009 and 2013, and Griffioen winning the last four in the past two years.
“It’s crazy,” said Griffioen. “It’s like a little bit of history to be the first one to have their name on that trophy, and it makes me really happy.
“I’m the first (Wimbledon) singles champion and that’s really, really cool.”
The women’s doubles final featured the same two teams for a fourth consecutive year in top seeds Yui Kamiji of Japan and Jordanne Whiley of Great Britain against second seeds Griffioen and Van Koot.
Kamiji and Whiley, the two-time defending champions, captured the title 6-2, 6-2.
This marked the first time in Wimbledon history a women’s wheelchair doubles team has won the title for three consecutive years. Wheelchair great Esther Vergeer also won three successive Wimbledon doubles trophies from 2009 to 2011, but she did so with three different partners.
Other notes: Dutchman Maikel Scheffers replaced Japan’s former world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda in the field of eight players for the men’s singles after Kunieda withdrew due to injury. Kunieda has only played two events since having elbow surgery in early April, his latest competitive appearance coming in June’s semifinals at Roland Garros to Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez.
Complete results are available on the Wimbledon website.