Wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer is the most famous disabled sportsperson in Holland. In 2005, she became the ITF Tennis World Champion for the sixth successive year. Her win-loss record on the Wheelchair Tennis Tour was a remarkable 55-0, making her undefeated for the second successive year.
Her major tournament victories included the Masters, US Open, Atlanta Masters Series, Swiss Open, British Open and French Open. She also led the Netherlands to victory in the World Team Cup, the Davis Cup of wheelchair tennis. Not surprisingly, she was voted the Netherland’s Disabled Sportswoman of 2005.
She has won four Paralympic gold medals in Sydney and Athens, and still has the motivation to go to Beijing in 2008.
Vergeer has been in a wheelchair since she was nine years old. An operation to relieve a brain haemorrhage left her legs unable to move. Part of her rehabilitation programme involved playing sports and she found she had an aptitude for wheelchair tennis and basketball, choosing to concentrate on tennis from the time she was 17.
Winner of the 2002 Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, she is one of the two founders of the Dutch foundation ‘Handzzzup’ which organises wheelchair tennis clinics for children with a physical disability.