A young British tennis player achieved what many would never have thought possible on Wednesday to advance to the main draw at the Australian Open despite her physical deformities to her hands and feet.
With a rare genetic disorder, Francesca Jones has only three fingers and one thumb on each hand, and a total of seven toes. Now 20, the player was diagnosed with ectodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome as a child. A professional tennis career seemed to her quite improbable.
“The doctors told me I couldn’t play tennis because of the disadvantages they believed I had,” Jones said in an interview with the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
“I never felt it was a disadvantage. It’s just a part of who I am and it doesn’t change anything for me, ”she added in a video released by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
Twelve years after being diagnosed, Jones made a smashing entry into the Melbourne main draw after knocking down all three of his opponents in qualifying.
In the third and final round, the 241st racket in the world defeated China’s Jia-Jing Lu (200th) in two short innings of 6-0 and 6-1.
Previously, she got rid of the Romanian Monica Niculescu (144th) and the Croatian Jana Fett (209th).
“The way I see it is that I just play the game with different cards. But that doesn’t mean these cards can’t allow me to win, ”Jones said in an interview with the BBC before starting his qualifying journey.
After having spent most of her career so far on the ITF circuit, the Briton will therefore participate, from February 8, in her first major tournament. This new milestone that she has just crossed is very significant for her.
“You could say that I have proven to doctors and several people that they were wrong,” she told The Sun newspaper. But you know what? It doesn’t matter to me. I prefer to prove to people that it is possible to change perceptions. I’m not playing because I want to get revenge. I play to have a positive impact for those who read my story. I hope they can get something out of it. ”
“I would like to have a positive impact on people and for them to find strength in my story. I still want to accomplish so much. This is only the start of my adventure. ”