Britain’s Francesca Jones, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, reached her maiden Grand Slam main draw on Wednesday when she beat China’s Lu Jiajing in the final round of Australian Open qualifying in Dubai.
Jones suffers from ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome, a condition which meant she was born with three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on her right foot and four toes on her left.
The 20-year-old was told by doctors as a child that she would not be able to pursue a professional tennis career due to her physical disadvantages, which Jones says spurred her on to prove them wrong.
The world number 241, who finds balance to be the biggest shortcoming due to her condition, has since overcome the odds and added a new chapter to her story on Wednesday when she beat China’s Lu 6-0 6-1 to book her ticket for Melbourne.
“I’m just super happy to qualify and really looking forward to getting out to Australia,” said Jones, who has had over 10 surgeries in her life already.
“I’ve never been before and I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing experience. I guess any draw for me would be a fascinating one. I look forward to any match I’ll play, whether it’ll be Serena Williams or another qualifier.”
Jones will now board a chartered flight to Melbourne where the players will serve a mandatory 14-day quarantine before warm-up events start on Jan. 31 before the Australian Open.
Also joining the Briton on the flight will be Italy’s former world number five Sara Errani, who was a Roland Garros runner-up, a US Open semi-finalist and an Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2012 before slipping down the rankings.
The 33-year-old, currently ranked 131, booked her spot for the February 8-21 Grand Slam at Melbourne Park with a 3-6 6-2 6-4 win over Croatian Ana Konjuh in the final round of qualifying.