Esther Vergeer's challenge

"I want to get everything out of life."

Esther Vergeer was the undisputed number 1 in the world wheelchair tennis rankings for years. She won gold medals at the Paralympics in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London, and won more tournaments and Grand Slams all over the world than any disabled tennis player ever. Reaching the top was the ultimate challenge. Having achieved that, she is now considering a future without top sports. A talk about pushing back frontiers, making dreams come true, and getting everything out of life.

Rarely was a sport dominated worldwide by a single athlete as in this case. For years, Esther Vergeer was undefeatable, winning everything there was to win. She became a role model, both on and off the tennis court. She is both extravert and insecure, aware of her limitations. In her strength and vulnerability, she involves others in her success and her crusade for the integration of disabled sports. This has made Esther Vergeer a living legend.

 

History

Eight years old, Esther ends up on the operating table after three haemorrhages, caused by a vascular disorder. After the third operation, she wakes up without any sensation in her lower legs and ends up in a wheelchair. Her family and friends, her primary school, the rehabilitation centre and in particular sports constitute the pillars for her coming to terms with her limitations. What's more, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball open the door to a life full of new challenges and opportunities.

Vergeer chooses tennis and makes her dreams come true. Her impressive career starts in her own country, when - at the age of seventeen - she wins the unofficial World Championship. It is a title that she will win again thirteen times in a row. The four golden medals won in four consecutive Paralympics - a world record - highlight her glorious career. Meanwhile, Esther is a pioneer.

She became a full-time athlete and in spite of her young age takes her social responsibility outside the tennis court, setting up the Esther Vergeer Foundation and Team ParaStars, and accepting numerous ambassadorships. As a top athlete pur sang, she is the standard bearer of disabled sports both nationally and throughout the world, and epitomises its evolution. In 2002 and 2008 she received the highest global sports award, the Laureus World Sports Award.

 

Writing

In "Esther Vergeer - kracht & kwetsbaarheid" (Strength & Vulnerability) she shares her life story without any inhibitions, interspersed with quotes from people in her immediate sports and business circle. From her parents to Roger Federer, from her primary school teacher to her sponsor, and from Johan Cruijff to her tennis opponents.

 

For more information on Esther and her activities, visit: www.esthervergeer.nl