For his entry into the running Tuesday February 9 (the night of Monday to Tuesday in France) at the Australian Open, Shelby Rogers, 60th in the world, knows what to expect. The American, like most of the world, now knows the story of her opponent Francesca Jones.
The Briton, 20 years old and 245th in the world, who is playing for the first time in a Grand Slam final table, has only… four fingers on each hand, four toes on one foot and three on the other. “Incredible spirit, stamina and determination,” summed up legendary former American player Billie Jean King.
A body “not intended to become that of an athlete”
The young woman suffers from a birth defect, a rare genetic disease with a name as long (ectrodactyly-ectodermal dysplasia-labiopalatine cleft syndrome) as an exchange of pure earthlings … The player from Leeds, who validated her ticket for Australia, by winning three qualifying matches in Dubai, is by no means an illustrious unknown in the world of tennis.
Despite his handicap, “Fran” lifted five trophies on the ITF secondary circuit and tried his luck twice, without success, in the Wimbledon qualifiers (2018 and 2019). A great revenge for a little girl to whom the doctors had deprived all hope of fulfilling her dreams of an apprentice champion. “Several doctors said that I would never become a professional player,” she explained. When, at age eight or nine, you were told that there were certain things that you couldn’t do, many would be heartbroken, but I just took it before I found a way to prove them wrong. “
Defending herself, the Englishwoman, who never dreamed of following a “Paralympic” path, has become a billiard specialist. Unable to list the number of surgeries she had to undergo. “It is certainly double digits,” she told the Times. There were so many operations that I got used to it. My body is not intended to become that of an athlete. I didn’t suffer, because it was almost part of my daily life. I have to take care of myself a little more than the others maybe, but I don’t mind. Either way, I have a high pain threshold. It’s part of who I am. “
Different strokes, lighter racket
At ten years old, Fran Jones, daughter of financial advisers, emigrated from Yorkshire to Barcelona to join the Sanchez Casal academy. And undertook specific work related to his pathology. Based on the strengthening of the joints and above all the search for balance and support. She therefore runs differently from other players to be more stable on the court. Her racquet is lighter than average, with a little grip that she has to squeeze very hard.
But what do the differences or adversity matter? Mentally, Francesca Jones is endowed with enormous strength which also allows her to overcome better than many colleagues the constraints linked to the health situation in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I prove to myself that I can do what I want and I encourage others to do the same,” she whispered in Dubai. Because I think there are too many children who are limited by what other people say… ”
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr