“The British people really get behind me and Yui, and we feed off them, which is such a good position to be in when playing your rivals."
On Friday (10 July) at Wimbledon, Great Britain, Jordanne Whiley will play her first Grand Slam with her new title: Jordanne Whiley MBE.
The British star was recently awarded Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in recognition of her achievements in wheelchair tennis. She describes the experience as an “unbelievable feeling.”
“I never imagined this would happen,” Whiley said. “I had to read the letter over and over (again) because I could not believe what I was reading. It took a while to sink in, but now it has made me even more determined to achieve greater things.”
To top that off, she looks to defend her Wimbledon doubles title with Japan’s Yui Kamiji. The duo won last year’s calendar Grand Slam, and in total won five successive Grand Slam titles.
But that streak came to an end at the Roland Garros in June. Whiley and Kamiji fell to their main rivals – the Dutch duo of Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot, 7-6, 3-6, 10-8, in a mammoth final in Paris, France.
“It was so heart breaking to lose a big match like that on a third set tie break,” Whiley said. “I felt like we both were not on form that day, and I was very angry with myself. But after reflecting on the match, I know where we went wrong and we will be coming back strong for Wimbledon; even the best have bad days.”
Last year’s Wimbledon was Whiley and Kamiji’s third Grand Slam title, in which they beat Griffioen and Van Koot in the final, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“There is more pressure [because of last year], but now that we have lost a match, I feel like the pressure has lifted a little bit,” she added. “We can now go out and focus on playing the best tennis we can to lift that trophy again.”
Accomplishing another win in Wimbledon – a doubles only event – would give Whiley a boost in her upcoming goals: her first singles Grand Slam title and the No. 1 spot.
The 23-year-old is currently ranked No. 6 in the women’s singles, and the next Grand Slam she can aim for is September’s US Open.
“Aside from the doubles, I am really focusing on my singles game,” Whiley said.
“I want that singles Grand Slam title and I want to be world No. 1, and I will not stop until I get there.”
But for now, her focus is on this week’s prize.
Like all Grand Slams, Wimbledon gives the wheelchair tennis players a chance to mix with the stars from the ATP Tour. It is also the only Grand Slam played on grass, a surface that works in the favour of the world’s current one-two in the doubles rankings.
“Grass is difficult to move on, but, personally I like it,” said Whiley.
“Yui and I both have strong slice-backhands, which work really well on the grass and we are both very fast, which can be quite intimidating to our opponents.”
Besides the grass, Whiley sees another advantage in playing in Wimbledon.
“The British people really get behind me and Yui, and we feed off them, which is such a good position to be in when playing your rivals, Whiley said.