15-year-old Francesca Jones might be the most remarkable and certainly is the most inspirational tennis player who competed at the Wimbledon this year. She was born with Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED), a rare condition that caused her hands and feet to develop abnormally and has left her with only three fingers in each hand. Even though after going through innumerable painful surgeries, including 3 this year, this Yorkshire teenager has miraculously turned up at Wimbledon. “If I have to do the operations again, I’ll do them again. My syndrome is something that has really helped me become the person I am today”, says a proud Francesca.
When she was nine, Francesca moved away from her from her family to a tennis academy in Barcelona, where she has lived by herself for the past 6 years and had been working day in and day out to achieve her Wimbledon dream. Already suffering from a handicap, this kind of a personal and a professional shift might seem like a big challenge for most. But, Francesca took the challenge head on. She believed that the challenge has instead imbued her with the mental strength to withstand whatever obstacles she comes across on a tennis court and in life. The British player never used her condition as an excuse. During her bout at the Wimbledon, she fought head-to-toe with Kayla Jones, the No.5 seed and accepted her loss like a valiant warrior.
After the loss, Francesca said, “As I matured, as I got older, I have just worked on my weaknesses day in, day out. Everything’s mental and everything’s work. So if you keep at it then eventually it’s going to work out for you.”
And it is this perpetual determination of Francesca that has kept her hopes alive and has taught millions around the world that she might be disabled, but she has, definitely, not lost.
MANYA GUMASHTHA | TOC
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