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Wimbledon On Wheels

July 5, 2009

World number one Esther Vergeer and Korie Homan made history as the inaugural winners of the Wimbledon women’s wheelchair doubles title.

The Dutch pair beat Britain’s Lucy Shuker and Daniela di Toro of Australia 6-1 6-3 in the final.

“This is a huge event and I’m so proud to have won,” Vergeer told BBC Sport.

French pair Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz beat Dutchman Robin Ammerlaan and Japan’s Shingo Kunieda 1-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to win the men’s doubles.

Vergeer, whose unbeaten singles record stretches to 350 matches, teamed up with world number two Homan this year and the formidable pair already have the Australian and French Open titles to their name.

Against Shuker and Di Toro they made a blistering start, rushing into a 5-0 lead, and, although the Anglo-Australian pair saved two set points in the sixth game, Vergeer served out the first set.

The Dutch pair won the opening game of the second set before Shuker and Di Toro rallied by winning the next three games to lead 3-1.

But once again, Vergeer and Homan showed their class and they won five games in a row with Homan clinching the famous win with a forehand cross-court winner.

“Each year when I saw the men’s tournament taking place here I really wanted to be there and when they announced that there would be a women’s event this year, I was so keen to take part,” Vergeer added afterwards.

“It is one of the only titles that hasn’t been on my list at any stage and now it is and I am so proud for myself and Korie. This is one that I really wanted.”

Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz

Houdet and Jeremiasz pose with the men’s doubles trophy

Despite the defeat, Somerset-based Shuker was keen to take some positives from her Wimbledon debut.

“It was an awesome experience and while obviously it was disappointing to lose, it was great to play here and we have to build on this and look forward.”

Houdet and Jeremiasz added the Wimbledon crown to their Paralympic and French Open titles after edging a tense third-set tie-break against Ammerlaan, who was chasing his third title in a row after triumphing with Ronald Vink, and Kunieda.

Ammerlaan and Kunieda made the better start and dominated the opening set but the Paralympic champions recovered well with some lovely touches at the net and rasping ground strokes, winning three games in a row to take the set.

With the French benefitting from some loud support and looking more aggressive, both Ammerlaan and Kunieda had to hold their serve to stay in the match but in the tie-break, Houdet and Jeremiasz again looked the stronger to seal victory with Houdet throwing his racket into the air in delight.

“We have achieved so much as a partnership and this is certainly one of our career highlights,” said Jeremiasz, who partnered Britain’s Jayant Mistry to victory in the inaugural event in 2005.

“Winning with Jayant was special, because he is such a good friend, but it is great to share something like this with Stephane.”

Houdet added: “I think communication played a big part in our victory – we spoke a lot and helped each other on when the other was struggling.

“It was a tough game but now we have won the French Open and Wimbledon, we are aiming for the Grand Slam.”

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