Continuing our blogs for Women’s Sport Week wheelchair tennis player Gill James tells us her story about how tennis helped her get her life back.
If anyone ever says to me that tennis isn’t for them then I think that is rubbish! Tennis can be a sport for everyone; people just need to know what opportunities are out there for them. I had a migraneouus stroke in 1997 which effective my balance and resulted in my spinal injury and I even lost my driving licence.
My first tennis experience was in the early 1950s at the Swindon Hard Courts Club, but after my accident I discovered wheelchair tennis when I bought my first wheelchair from Peter Norfolk at EPC in 2002. Peter introduced me Terry Parker as Oxstalls Tennis Centre in Gloucester and through them I attended the weekend training sessions at Nottingham and began competing in the Tennis Foundation Development Series events (now the Wheelchair Tennis National Series).
I began in the lower divisions and then eventually worked my way up to the main draws of tournaments. Playing wheelchair tennis has helped in huge areas of my life, it helped my brain to make new connections and after four years playing I was able to prove that I was competent to drive and got my licence back.
Without the Tennis Foundation, Peter Norfolk and Terry Parker I wouldn’t be the person I am now – after my stroke and spinal injury I was very depressed but they taught me that there was still a life worth living. Since meeting them I became a mature student and obtained a Batchelor of Arts. I have represented my country in wheelchair tennis, and in 2012 I was Games Maker at Eton Manor for the Paralympics. It has given me so many experiences for which I am hugely grateful.