Wimbledon winners praise All England Club for promoting disability sport
Great Britain’s wheelchair tennis players have praised the All England Club for increasing the profile of disability sport after a successful week at Wimbledon.
Three British players left SW19 with titles to their name, as Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett retained their men’s doubles crown, while Jordanne Whiley won a fourth consecutive women’s doubles trophy alongside Japan’s Yui Kamiji.
Both doubles finals were played on Court Three, in front of large crowds, and 25-year-old Whiley – who now has 10 Grand Slam titles on her tennis CV – praised the organisers for the chance to show their skills on a big stage.
“Every year the crowd gets bigger and it gets stronger,” she said.
“I was a little bit worried that people weren't going to know that we were there, because you're sort of in that bowl.
“Wheelchair tennis is one of those things where you see it and you get hooked, whereas if you don't know it's there, you might not go and see it.
“I was really pleased today there was a massive crowd. I'm so grateful to Wimbledon for putting us on that court." Jordanne Whiley
“The crowd really do help us. They don't realise how much they get behind us and how much it really helps. We definitely needed that in the second set.”
Whiley and Kamiji beat Dutch second seeds Diede de Groot and Marjolein Buis 2-6 6-3 6-0 as the Brit continued her return from a long-term wrist injury.
And Reid and Hewett were also forced to do things the hard way in their final; returning from a long rain delay having lost the opening set to beat Nicolas Peifer and Stephane Houdet 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (3).
The title was their second in a row, and Reid was also thankful for the opportunity to play on a show court, compared to last year on Court 17.
“From the stage we played on last year, to the stage this year, with the difference in size and the spectacle for the crowd watching at home was immense,” said the Scot.
“For me, I enjoyed this one even more than I did last year. And not just for us, for the support as a whole it will do a lot for the sport.
“We never thought we would play on a packed out Court Three, but there might be people out there watching it, who will play on a packed out Court Two in the future.
“Hopefully we’ve played our part in the growth of the sport.” Gordon Reid
But while it was all smiles in the doubles events, the singles saw Lucy Shuker, Reid and Whiley all exit at the quarter-final stage, while Hewett could not emulate his French Open heroics of last month as he lost in the semi-finals.
Shuker, who exited the ladies doubles to de Groot and Buis in the semi-finals, lost to Kamiji in the singles, while Whiley was beaten by de Groot – both in straight sets.
In the men’s event Reid’s title defence ended at the first hurdle as Stefan Olsson beat him in straight sets, with Hewett recovering from a set down to beat Peifer in the quarter-finals, before losing in three sets by second seed Gustavo Fernandez.