Retiring on Top

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News April 2013

Wheelchair tennis superstar Esther Vergeer announces her retirement from the sport.

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Esther Vergeer dominated wheelchair tennis for more than a decade, winning 470 consecutive matches.

After a tremendous career that transformed the sport of wheelchair tennis, Dutch superstar Esther Vergeer announced on Feb. 12 she is retiring.

For more than a decade, Vergeer dominated the sport, with eight Paralympic titles and 42 Grand Slams to her name.

“To win 470 consecutive matches on the court and go unbeaten for ten years is a remarkable feat,” says International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven. “On the court, she has been at the top of the world rankings since October 2000. Throughout her entire career, Vergeer has embodied the Paralympic spirit, and it has been a true honor to watch her play.”

Vergeer has played wheelchair tennis since age 12, when surgery on her spinal cord “went wrong.”

A former national standard wheelchair basketball player, she eventually decided to pursue tennis instead and played her first tournament in 1994. Vergeer became world No. 1 for the first time in 1999 and has dominated the sport ever since, having been named International Tennis Federation Wheelchair World Champion for the last 13 years.

Vergeer provided a face for wheelchair tennis and helped increase awareness for the Paralympics, not just in the Netherlands but throughout sporting communities around the world. Her efforts off the court include establishing Team ParaStars, Dutch Paralympians she helped attain larger profiles and fan bases in their country by working with grass-roots programs and charities.

Craven believes Vergeer will go down in Paralympic history as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

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