Britain’s Francesca Jones said she hopes to “change people’s perspectives” as she qualified for the Australian Open on Wednesday, her first major tournament, with a crushing win over Lu Jia-jing in the final round of qualifying in Abu Dhabi.
Jones, a 20-year-old from the north of England who has a rare congenital condition that means she has only eight fingers and seven toes, steamed past Lu 6-0 6-1.
Jones, the British number five, was ranked 241 in the women’s singles rankings before their clash, with the more experiences Lu 40 places ahead of her.
“I have big goals that I want to achieve and I do want to change people’s perspectives not just on tennis but on sport and how they approach sport,” she said in an interview.
“My syndrome (Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia) is very rare... and it’s a complicated one because there are many different symptoms. My symptoms are I have three toes on my right foot, four on my left, four fingers on both of my hands.”
Jones, 20, also saw off former top 30 player Monica Niculescu of Romania and Croatia’s Jana Fett in the earlier qualifying rounds.
She now has nearly three weeks before the start of the Australian Open, the first time she has reached the main draw of a Grand Slam, which begins February 8.
“You get the staring, you get the questions, you get the sympathy sometimes – and then you get the opposite, you get the hatred,” Jones said.
“I’ve never been one to focus too much on what other people think of me or specifically of that, because I don’t think this defines me.”
Here’s Jones talking about her incredible journey:
(With inputs from AFP)