Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Sport Week: Ones to watch for wheelchair tennis

The world's best will fight for the coveted six gold medals up for grabs 30 Jul 2021 By Marshall Thomas | For the IPC

Wheelchair tennis at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be contested at the Ariake Tennis Park between 27 August and 4 September. Check out who will be competing for gold.

Shingo Kunieda (JPN)

The first wheelchair tennis player to win back-to-back Paralympic men’s singles gold medals after being victorious at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Shingo Kunieda is the most decorated active player. He is is a five-time Paralympic medallist as he approaches Tokyo 2020. In September 2020, he broke the record for most Grand Slam wheelchair titles held by one player when he won his seventh US Open men’s singles title and his 45th career Grand Slam title across singles and doubles events. 

Ⓒ Takeo Tanuma

Diede de Groot (NED)

Diede de Groot made history in 2019, becoming the first wheelchair player to win all four Grand Slam singles titles consecutively (Wimbledon & US Open 2017, Australian Open & Roland Garros 2018). She claimed the first three Grand Slams of 2019 and also completed the calendar Grand Slam in doubles in 2019. Twice ITF World Champion, De Groot won doubles silver on her Paralympic debut in Rio. She is now a 10-time Grand Slam singles champion, having won the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, and is an 11-time Grand Slam doubles champion.

Ⓒ Getty Images

Gustavo Fernandez (ARG)

Gustavo Fernandez was the first South American player to be crowned ITF Wheelchair World Champion (year-end No. 1 men’s singles) in 2017 and he finished 2019 as ITF World Champion for the second time. He is a five-time Grand Slam singles champion, who won the first three men’s singles Grand Slam titles of 2019 and the same year he also led Argentina to their first World Team Cup men’s medal – a bronze. He carried Argentina’s flag at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony.

Ⓒ Lima 2019

Yui Kamiji (JPN)

Still the only non-Dutch player to win wheelchair tennis’s year-end Singles Masters women’s title, Yui Kamiji was the first Japanese woman to win a Paralympic wheelchair tennis medal when claiming singles bronze at Rio 2016. Twice crowned ITF World Champion in 2014 and 2017 - and still only the second non-Dutch women’s player to earn this title - Kamiji is an eight-time Grand Slam singles champion and 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion.

Ⓒ Getty Images

Joachim Gerard (BEL)

Joachim Gerard took up wheelchair tennis after contracting polio as a child. He won Belgium’s first Paralympic wheelchair tennis medal at Rio 2016, with bronze in the men’s singles. Gerard won the year-end NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters men’s title four times in five years between 2015 and 2019. He reached world No. 1 in the men’s singles rankings in December 2016 and finally won his first career Grand Slam singles title at the 2021 Australian Open.

Ⓒ OIS Photos

Jordanne Whiley (GBR)

Two-time Paralympic doubles bronze medallist Jordanne Whiley is a former US Open singles champion and 11-time Grand Slam doubles champion. She took time out after Wimbledon 2017 for the birth of her first son, Jackson, in January 2018. Former world No. 3, Whiley launched an impressive comeback in 2019, winning six singles titles and ending the year back inside the world’s Top 5. She won her first Grand Slam title as a mum at the 2020 Australian Open, when she partnered Yui Kamiji to win the women’s doubles. They won their 11th Grand Slam title together at the 2020 US Open.

Ⓒ Getty Images

Dylan Alcott (AUS)

After successive gold and silver medals in wheelchair basketball, Dylan Alcott returned to his first love of wheelchair tennis in 2014 and won quad singles and doubles gold medals at Rio 2016. Now two-time ITF World Champion, Alcott won the inaugural Roland Garros and Wimbledon quad singles titles in 2019 to complete a career Grand Slam in singles and a calendar Grand Slam in doubles. He is now a 13-time Grand Slam singles champion and nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion.  

Ⓒ Mike Hewitt - Getty Images

Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane (RSA)

Africa’s most successful female wheelchair tennis player of all time Montjane made her Paralympic Games debut in Beijing in 2008. She made her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros in 2013 and in 2018, she became the first black South African woman to play at Wimbledon, where she reached the singles semi-finals. During her career, she has reached seven Grand Slam singles semi-finals, most recently at this year’s Roland Garros. She’s also a two-time Grand Slam doubles finalist – at the 2019 US Open and the 2021 Australian Open - and has a career-high singles world ranking of No.5.

Ⓒ Getty Images

David Wagner (USA)

One of the most successful wheelchair tennis players ever, David Wagner has won three doubles gold medals, a doubles silver medal, two singles silver medals and two singles bronze medals since quad events made their Paralympic debut in 2004. A six-time Grand Slam singles champion, 18-time Grand Slam doubles champion and 11-time Singles Masters and Doubles Masters champion, he was named inaugural ITF Quad Singles World Champion in 2017. Tokyo will be his fifth Paralympics.

Ⓒ Getty Images

Sam Schroder (NED)

Since first reaching No.1 in the wheelchair tennis junior rankings in 2016, Sam Schroder has continued to show himself as a potential future star. From September 2017 to July 2018, he had to take time out for colon cancer treatment, but since his return he has gone from strength-to-strength, winning his first Super Series title in 2019 and making a spectacular Grand Slam debut at the US Open in 2020, beating Australian world No.1 and reigning Paralympic Dylan Alcott to lift the quad singles title.

Ⓒ Al Bello - Getty Images