Doctors told her she’d never play tennis professionally

Doctors told her she’d never play tennis professionally

 When Francesca Jones was eight, doctors told her she’d never play tennis professionally. A rare genetic condition – ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia – means she’s missing a finger on each hand and has only three toes on her right foot, and four toes on her left. Jones, though, didn’t listen: she carried on playing, using an extralight racquet with a thin handle to aid her grip, and learning to keep her balance despite her missing toes. Now, the Bradford-born 20-year-old has qualified for her first Grand Slam event – February’s Australian Open – where she could be pitted against the likes of Serena Williams. It’s extraordinary that she has got this far, said Mike Dickson in the Daily Mail; yet Jones is philosophical about the hurdles she has overcome. “I think every human being has physical weaknesses,” she says. “Each person is dealt their set of cards and each person has to play their game with their set of cards, and try to win the game. That’s how I see it.” She says she has lost count of the number of operations she has had to have. But she doesn’t think of herself as a disabled athlete – and insists her motivation has nothing to do with proving wrong the doctors who wrote her off. “I am not playing out of revenge,” she says. “I am playing to have a positive impact on the people who hopefully read my story. I’d love people to take strength from my story to build their own.”

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