“I always say the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
Those words of wisdom come from Francesca “Fran” Jones, an insightful 18-year-old set to continue tearing down barriers at this week’s Wimbledon qualifying event.
Born with the rare genetic condition Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EEC), which affects the central digits, and having undergone several operations, Jones competes with eight fingers and seven toes. The Brit, ranked a WTA career-high No. 297, earned her wild card nomination from the AELTC after capturing successive ITF World Tennis Tour W25 titles earlier this month on clay.
Jones is well-spoken and aware that her dream of making it as a tennis professional presents its own set of added complexities, like gripping her racquet and achieving optimal balance off the ground. The Leeds native is challenging the status quo through a thick skin and willpower to succeed.
“I don’t think anyone should be limited by other people’s opinions,” Jones told Sky News. “I know that I’ve struggled throughout years so far in tennis, and I’m not expecting to just see unicorns and rainbows when I hopefully make it to the top as well. For now, it’s just constant hard work and really pushing your limits.”
Jones will begin her qualifying campaign on Tuesday against world No. 217 Katarzyna Kawa of Poland.