Esther Vergeer

Esther Vergeer (born 18 July 1981 in Woerden ) is a Dutch former wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis player. She is five-time Paralympics gold medalist and was from 1999 until her retirement in 2013 consecutive world number one.

Life and work

Esther Vergeer is a paraplegic since the age of eight. As a teenager she played wheelchair basketball. She belonged to the Dutch national team that could win the 1997 Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

Vergeer had started parallel to the wheelchair basketball wheelchair tennis and played her first international tournament in 1996. Two years later she moved permanently the sport. Her first big success was winning the U.S. Open in 1998, which catapulted her into the world rankings from 15th to 2nd place. A year later she was number 1 in the world rankings for the first time. In the Summer Paralympics in Sydney in 2000, she lost not a single sentence and won both in single as well as double with Maaike Smit the gold medal.

Vergeer has until today (February 2008) won 123 international tournaments in singles and 109 in doubles tournaments. In individual, she won 630 games in 605 times, 403 times in a double in 434 games. Since 2001, she has only lost one game (2003 against Daniela Di Toro the Australian ), their current winning streak has been holding 470 games. (As of September 7, 2012 )

She was nominated five times for the Laureus World Sports Awards as a disabled athlete of the year and won the award in 2002 and 2008. In the Netherlands, it was 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010 selected disabled athlete of the year. In February 2013, she made her career end known and was the first wheelchair tennis player who finished as number 1 her career.

Title ( selection)


  • Laureus World Sports Awards - Disabled Sportswoman of the Year 2002 and 2008