|Jordanne Whiley is fresh from her success at the French Open. Photograph: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images|
The Briton, who is also aiming for her third consecutive grand slam title, has reached the semi-finals in SW19 twice before
Fresh from her victory at Roland Garros, the wheelchair tennis player Jordanne Whiley is hoping to secure her third consecutive grand slam title in the doubles at Wimbledon.
After wrapping up 2013 with a win at the Doubles Masters alongside Yui Kamiji, Whiley went on to claim victory at the Australian Open in January before the French Open this month. After reaching the Wimbledon semis two years in a row, Whiley is hoping her recent triumph will be the boost required to finally win at SW19. “I think having two slams will have a major impact on my game – it’s given myself and my partner a lot of confidence and drive,” she says. “The past two years we came so close, so hopefully we’ll be third time lucky.”
Whiley’s presence has been palpable on the wheelchair tennis circuit, given that the sport has largely been dominated by the Dutch – until now.
Her performance at the London Paralympics earned a bronze medal, an achievement upon which she hopes to improve in 2016. “I already have a countdown calendar to Rio on my iPad,” she says. Ranked second in the world for doubles and fifth in the world for singles, the UK top seed has already achieved a great many feats throughout her career – but the road to success has been anything but easy.
Born to Julie and the Paralympian Keith Whiley, Jordanne was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta – or brittle bone disease – at three months old. Whiley has broken her legs 26 times but, despite doctors telling her she would never be able to play sports, she adopted tennis at the age of three after watching her father play a match. “Someone spotted me on the sidelines, sort of mimicking every move, and gave me a racket.”
After picking up the sport, Whiley became the youngest person to win the national championships singles event at the age of 14. As well as her many sporting achievements she recently became an ambassador for RGK Life, the manufacturer of her wheelchair.
Whiley credits a large amount of the recent success to her coach, Paul Seymour. “Before Paul, I didn’t have a permanent coach. I just trained whenever and wherever I could, and it was quite stressful,” she says. “As soon as I met Paul and started training regularly, I was just happier playing tennis, and I think that’s shone through in my game.”
Looking ahead to Wimbledon, Whiley is not only hoping to use the momentum garnered at Roland Garros, but also to increase the profile of the sport. “Wheelchair tennis is definitely getting more exposure than it was,” she says, “but it’s going to be a slow process. I’ve noticed since the Olympics the coverage has been upped slightly, and the crowds at the grand slams are definitely much bigger. We still have a long way to go, but it’s on the right path.”
Having been a fixture at Wimbledon for the past four years, the one place Whiley will not be short of support is the All England Club. “It’s so nice to be British and play in a grand slam in front of a home crowd. The fans are absolutely amazing, and people are starting to know me more now that I’ve played in the semis twice,” she says. “Wimbledon is without a doubt my favourite tournament in the world.”
The Wimbledon wheelchair tennis doubles event runs from Friday 4 July to Sunday 6 July.