Esther Vergeer is the GOAT

Esther Vergeer It’s a question we hear debated regularly: which tennis player is the greatest of all time?

After discovering the remarkable story of Esther Vergeer only last night, there is no doubt in my mind that she surpasses the likes of Roger Federer and Steffi Graf in the list of contenders.

Having been diagnosed with paraplegia at the age of eight, the Dutchwoman has an unrivaled record in wheelchair tennis. She’s won a total of 39 Grand Slam titles, held the world number one ranking for 13 years, went 26 months without dropping a set in the mid-2000’s and is currently on a 444 match winning streak in singles.

Some tennis fans will already know of the now 30-year-old in some capacity but with records spanning into the 20th century it surprised me to learn of her so late. Even non-sport fans know who Federer is so you’d expect a CV like hers to make her a household name.

Unfortunately though, she remains a cult figure rather than a pioneer for disabled athletes, sports and events. Although she’s amassed over 5,000 followers on Twitter it doesn’t seem enough when you compare her to other successful disabled athletes.

Oscar Pistorius is probably the most famous disabled athlete in the world and has nearly 30,000 followers. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson perhaps holds that acclaim in the UK with just over 11,000. Surely Vergeer deserves to be on a par with them.

Thankfully, more people are starting to take note of her amazing dominance. Novak Djokovic had his photo taken with her in a recent tweet mentioning she’d not lost a match since 2003, which had me in utter disbelief. Then I found a video of her doing the Australian Open’s ‘Open Drive’ where I truly understood the scale of her achievements.

Along with her array of Grand Slam titles (which could have been more if Wimbledon held a wheelchair singles event) Vergeer has won five Paralympic gold medals thus far and will be chasing more when she comes to London this summer.

One hopes the world will take note this time and with more support from names such as Djokovic, she can receive just recognition and give wheelchair tennis a louder voice whilst enhancing her legacy further.

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