Photo: © George Santamouri/ wedtimestories.comEsther Vergeer (NED) receives the Paralympic Sport Award for Best Female
Seven-time Paralympic gold medallist Esther Vergeer won the award for Best Female on Saturday at the Paralympic Sport and Media Awards in Athens, Greece, in recognition of her London 2012 achievements.
Vegeer brought one of Paralympic sport’s most successful careers to an end last September with a fourth wheelchair tennis singles title before also partnering fellow Dutchwoman Marjolein Buis to gold in the women's doubles.
Vergeer became the most sucessful wheelchair tennis player in Paralympic Games history at London 2012, ending the Games having won a total of eight Paralympic medals - four singles gold medals, three doubles gold medals, while also winning silver in the women's doubles in Beijing in 2008.
Vergeer's victory in the women's singles final at London 2012 turned out to be the last singles win in her incredible career and saw her end her competitive career on a 470-match winning streak.
She announced her retirement from the sport in February this year, shortly after celebrating 10 years unbeaten. Her last defeat came against Australian Daniela di Toro in Sydney on 30 January 2003.
In those 10 years Vergeer won a total of 120 successive tournaments, beating 73 different opponents, winning 95 matches 60 60 and dropping just 18 sets of tennis. In that time she faced only one match point – against countrywoman Korie Homan in the women’s gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
During her career Vergeer was named ITF Wheelchair World Champion 13 years consecutvely and won 169 titles. She won every Grand Slam singles event she entered, racking up an amazing 21 singles titles and 23 doubles titles at the majors.
“It feels like it is a huge recognition for all my achievements," said Vergeer. "In London, at the Paralympic Games I played my last wheelchair tennis match. London was one of the many highlights my tennis career had, so I am very proud of winning the gold medal.
“It is great to be surrounded by so many great athletes from all over the world. You see Paralympic sport grow, and I am really hoping that I will stay involved and see it grow even more in the future.”
Prior to the athlete awards, which were presented during the IPC General Assenbly in Athens, media awards were presented for coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics.
The award for Best Radio was presented to BBC World Service, while the award for Best Broadcast was won by Channel 4, the host TV broadcaster. The award for Best Written was presented to Telegraph Media Group, the publisher of the Daily Telegraph in Great Britain.