In January Gordon Reid became the first British man to win a wheelchair singles title at the Australian Open and with Wimbledon staging a singles wheelchair event for the first time this year Reid will have a chance to make some more history.
Reid was a keen tennis player before he contracted transverse myelitis as a teenager in 2006 and he took up the wheelchair sport after being left paralysed from the waist down.
“To be honest I did not even know before I started playing wheelchair tennis, that it even existed in the Grand Slams,” Reid admitted after his victory in Melbourne. Scottish born Reid said he took up wheelchair tennis because to get active and healthy again.
“I just wanted to play to get back into sport,” he said. “As time went on I realised I could actually be quite good at this, and I could probably get to the Slams one day. Then you just really set your goals as you go along.”
In 2008, just two years after his illness, Reid represented Great Britain at the Beijing Paralympics and he has not looked back since. He is a multiple Grand Slam winner with three doubles titles to his name (Roland Garros 2015 and 2016, US Open in 2015) as well as the Australian Open singles title. Reid admits the win in Australia was an important step for him mentally.
“It’s huge because in the past in a lot of Grand Slam singles matches especially, I’ve been quite nervous and I’ve got quite tight. I didn't really produce my best tennis,” he said. “To come [to Melbourne] and to play some of my best tennis ever and really step up on the big stage in the final it really gives me that self confidence, in my own game. The fact that when it really matters I can play some great tennis.”
Reid was runner up in the men’s final at Roland Garros 2016, losing to Gustavo Fernandez in the singles, albeit he won the doubles title with Shingo Kunieda.
“I came off court after the match and I was obviously disappointed not to win but, at the same time, I had gone out there and played the style I wanted to play. I gave everything I could. It just wasn’t enough,” Reid wrote in the Scottish Daily Mail.
Of playing at Wimbledon he said: “It’s going to be huge for our sport. And amazing to play in front of home crowds.”
Reid recently found a sponsor in McCrea Financial Services; a Glasgow based financial services firm who also sponsor rugby union team Glasgow Warriors and Partick Thistle FC.
“When they take someone on they really help them a lot in all aspects not just financial,” Reid said.
Finding financial support for the sport is not easy, and back in the early years the Dan Maskell Trust helped Reid on his journey replacing a wheelchair after it got lost in transit.
“I received one of my first tennis chairs through the Trust, which then allowed me to enjoy my tennis as a junior and begin my dreams of greater success in the future,” Reid said.
The prize money of £25,000 on offer to the winners of the wheelchair singles at Wimbledon is the biggest prize money for the sport anywhere.
After Wimbledon Reid will play the British Open in Nottingham and then plans to go home to Scotland for five weeks before heading to the British Paralympics training camp in Sao Paolo.
The annual Dan Maskell Tennis Trust Golf Day took place on June 14 at The Buckinghamshire Club and raised more than £12,000 for the charity. All the money raised will go to supporting disabled people playing tennis.