Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: Whiley wins historic bronze medal
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Jordanne Whiley made history at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, becoming the first British woman to win a singles medal after defeating Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4.
Whiley’s medal was the second of what is now guaranteed to be four medals for Britain’s wheelchair tennis players, after Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid claimed their second successive men’s doubles silver medal earlier in the day. Hewett and Reid will now play each other for the men’s singles bronze medal on Saturday, when Whiley will also partner Lucy Shuker in the women’s doubles gold medal match.
Fourth seed Whiley needed two hours and 35 minutes to beat world No.3 Van Koot in a nervy contest and realise her long-held ambition to win a Paralympic singles medal, defeating the London 2012 and Rio 2016 silver medallist for the seventh time in succession.
The four-time Paralympian and 13-time Grand Slam champion Whiley, who returned to international wheelchair tennis early in 2019 after giving birth to son Jackson in January 2018, said: “It’s such an amazing achievement for me, personally, so this is honestly the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. For me this feels like gold as I’ve never done this before. With everything that’s happened in the last two years and (before that) I had a baby and struggled with getting back to fitness. To get my body into a state where I can actually compete at elite level, I’m really proud of myself.”
Hewett and Reid had to settle for silver after their bid to win gold ended in a 7-5, 0-6, 7-6(3) loss to second seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer as the French duo retained their Paralympic title.
At the end of an exhausting three hour and 25 minute contest, Reid said: “My only regret is that we didn’t do it from the start, but it’s not that easy and if it was that easy then everybody we do it. It’s pretty much the only title we’ve not won together and we both wanted it so badly and we fought until the last point. It’s not easy to take, but that’s all we can ask for. We still gave ourselves the opportunities… We went out playing our way and somebody’s got to be a winner and somebody’s got to be a loser and unfortunately that was us today.”
Hewett and Reid, who have won the last seven Grand Slam doubles titles together and who hold the record for the most Grand Slam titles won by any British tennis partnership, were hoping to have the chance to complete a Golden Slam when they contest the US Open in New Yor next week. However, whey will still aim to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Men's singles - bronze medal
Gordon Reid vs Alfie Hewett
Women's doubles - final
Jordanne Whiley & Lucy Shuker vs Diede de Groot & Aniek van Koot