Britain’s Francesca Jones reaches first Grand Slam

Francesca Jones

It was joy and relief in equal measure for Francesca Jones as she sealed her spot for the upcoming Australian Open. The pressure on a young tennis player to break through the glass ceiling and make it into one of the sport’s biggest events is always huge, but Jones handled herself with considerable aplomb in her Australian Open qualifying campaign, and defeated China’s Lu Jiajing in convincing fashion in the decisive match.

That 6-0, 6-1 victory has ensured that Jones’ dreams of competing on the biggest stage in sport have come true. While circumstances surrounding sport are somewhat altered at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, it hasn’t stopped the likes of Jones from delivering on their potential.

“I’m just super happy to qualify and really looking forward to getting out to Oz,” she said after the victory in Dubai, where the qualifiers were being held. While she won’t be fancied in the 2021 Australian Open odds from Betfair, Jones will be keen to keep her winning run going as long as possible.

Now, a 14-day quarantine must be adhered to when she arrives in Australia, a rule that all players must follow as they prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year, but the excitement of partaking in her first Grand Slam event will surely give Jones all the perseverance she needs.

Indeed, perseverance and determination are words that are apt for Jones. Born with a rare genetic condition called Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia, Jones has a thumb and three fingers on each hand, and only seven toes in total. The fact that she has worked so hard to get her game to such a high level is testament to her singular focus and belief.

“The way I see it is that I am just playing the game with a different set of cards,” Jones told the BBC. “But it doesn’t mean those cards still can’t win the game. When someone does say to you at eight, nine years old that you can’t do something, I suppose most people would be heartbroken, but I just tried to take it on the chin and see how I could prove that person wrong. And also prove to myself that I could do what I wanted to, and encourage others to do so too, because I think there are so many children that are limited by what others say.”

It’s a hugely inspiring story, and one that will have tennis fans all over the world rooting for her, particularly in the UK, and her hometown of Bradford. There is something about an underdog story that inspires and excites fans of sport, and Jones has had to overcome challenges to reach this seminal moment in her career.

Jones will go to the Australian Open with a huge amount of belief, and her confidence will have been boosted to sky-high levels by her performances in qualifying. Whether or not she can carry her form into the main event remains to be seen, and much may hinge on the draw. Whoever is drawn against Jones, it would be unwise to take her for granted. Having climbed this latest hill in her career, the view looks sweet, and you can bet that Jones has plans to go higher still.

Britain’s Francesca Jones reaches first Grand Slam

It was joy and relief in equal measure for Francesca Jones as she sealed her spot for the upcoming Australian Open. The pressure on a young tennis player to break through the glass ceiling and make it into one of the sport’s biggest events is always huge, but Jones handled herself with considerable aplomb in her Australian Open qualifying campaign, and defeated China’s Lu Jiajing in convincing fashion in the decisive match.

That 6-0, 6-1 victory has ensured that Jones’ dreams of competing on the biggest stage in sport have come true. While circumstances surrounding sport are somewhat altered at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, it hasn’t stopped the likes of Jones from delivering on their potential.

“I’m just super happy to qualify and really looking forward to getting out to Oz,” she said after the victory in Dubai, where the qualifiers were being held. While she won’t be fancied in the 2021 Australian Open odds from Betfair, Jones will be keen to keep her winning run going as long as possible.

Now, a 14-day quarantine must be adhered to when she arrives in Australia, a rule that all players must follow as they prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year, but the excitement of partaking in her first Grand Slam event will surely give Jones all the perseverance she needs.

Indeed, perseverance and determination are words that are apt for Jones. Born with a rare genetic condition called Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia, Jones has a thumb and three fingers on each hand, and only seven toes in total. The fact that she has worked so hard to get her game to such a high level is testament to her singular focus and belief.

“The way I see it is that I am just playing the game with a different set of cards,” Jones told the BBC. “But it doesn’t mean those cards still can’t win the game. When someone does say to you at eight, nine years old that you can’t do something, I suppose most people would be heartbroken, but I just tried to take it on the chin and see how I could prove that person wrong. And also prove to myself that I could do what I wanted to, and encourage others to do so too, because I think there are so many children that are limited by what others say.”

It’s a hugely inspiring story, and one that will have tennis fans all over the world rooting for her, particularly in the UK, and her hometown of Bradford. There is something about an underdog story that inspires and excites fans of sport, and Jones has had to overcome challenges to reach this seminal moment in her career.

Jones will go to the Australian Open with a huge amount of belief, and her confidence will have been boosted to sky-high levels by her performances in qualifying. Whether or not she can carry her form into the main event remains to be seen, and much may hinge on the draw. Whoever is drawn against Jones, it would be unwise to take her for granted. Having climbed this latest hill in her career, the view looks sweet, and you can bet that Jones has plans to go higher still.

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