British star and the biggest mover in this week’s WTA rankings, Fran Jones, has proved her doubters wrong once again, this time by reaching the semi-finals of the Copa Colsanitas tournament in Colombia.
Jones leaped from a world ranking of 817 to 386 after her sparkling run at the WTA 250 clay court event, and that success can only be admired considering all she has faced to get here.
THE FRAN JONES STORY
Diagnosed with a rare genetic condition Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EEC) at birth, Jones was born with a cleft lip, a finger missing on each hand and just seven toes.
It was a condition that appeared to end her hopes of reaching the top of the game, yet this 22-year-old from Leeds has a spirit and determination that has driven her on.
After making her debut at the Australian Open in 2021, she went on to play in the first round at Wimbledon later that year and could be set to return to the grass tournament this July after her breakthrough on the WTA Tour.
“It didn’t change anything for me, it didn’t change my approach. I just had, like any kid, things that I was dealing with…and I dealt with it,” said Jones in an interview with the LTA last year.
“I was born on a farm up north (northern England) and hopefully my accent is still there!
“I have EEC and while I don’t go into all the details about it, I am Fran and I will always be Fran. It wasn’t the easiest thing to go through, but I wanted to push myself.
“When I was about seven or eight, I started to play a little bit more. Having gone through the operations I was going through in that moment, and prior to that, we did go to my doctor and say ‘Hey, she’s actually starting to pick this up on quite a consistent level’.
“That was when I was limited by someone, or there was an attempt to limit me, and that just pushed me even further to commit. People told me I couldn’t do it, but I wanted to test that and see where it could take me.
“The reason why I started committing as a professional and wanting to achieve big things in the game is that I want people to hopefully take positives from what I’ve managed to do and be an inspiration to them. It would be great to have a positive impact on younger kids and people that are in similar positions to me.”
DEFYING THE ODDS
While plenty have doubted Jones on her tennis journey so far, her impressive performances in Colombia last week confirmed she can shine on the biggest of stages.
Jones had been in South America for a few weeks before she started winning matches in Colombia, with her performances on the ITF World Tennis Tour giving some hint that she was finding her best form.
Given all she has had to overcome to reach this level, the victories at the Copa Colsanitas tournament were special.
“I’m very privileged to be able to step onto a court every day as my job – something that keeps me healthy and gives me an objective every day,” she added.
“I think there’s only one goal, and that’s ultimately to just fulfil my potential in whatever I’m setting myself out to do and giving myself the best platform to do that.”
With more clay court events on her agenda over the next few weeks, this player who boasts an impressive array of attacking shots is one to watch.
As she has proved time and again, no barrier is too high for Fran Jones to overcome.
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