The name of the winningest active tennis player might not sound familiar, but her story is certainly memorable. Thirty-year-old Esther Vergeer from the Netherlands was paralyzed by life-saving surgery when she was eight years old, and started playing wheelchair tennis when she was 12. Since then, the 6’2″ Dutch superstar has won 424 consecutive matches, beginning in 2003. More than one observer has called her one of the greatest tennis players ever.
Vergeer is at the U.S. Open this week, where she has continued to shut down her competition. On Friday she won the semifinals against Annick Sevenans of Belgium and will compete in the finals on Sunday. But with the streak going on eight years now, Vergeer has begun to focus less on the importance of winning every game.
“I was more afraid of losing than I was eager to win,” says Vergeer. “I realized that that shouldn’t be the case. So, I set myself some other goals and I’m trying not to worry about, not think about the winning streak any more.”
Only A Game‘s Jon Kalish sat down with Vergeer. Click on the listen link above to hear Jon’s report. And check out a video of Vergeer in action at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing below.