Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid followed up their history-making achievement in 2016 to become the first Brits to retain the Wimbledon men’s doubles wheelchair tennis title on Saturday at The Championships.
In a thrilling contest, Hewett and Reid defeated Rio Paralympic gold medallists Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer of France in a final set tie-break for the second successive year, completing a glorious 6-7(5) 7-5, 7-6(3) victory after two hours and 55 minutes of sporting theatre on Court No.3.
“When the match goes like that and you win 7-6 in the third it makes it even more special,” said an emotional Hewett. “The French had us in an absolute battle out there. There were never any easy points, which is what you expect against the Paralympic champions. We had to work for every single point.
“It’s amazing to have been on Court No.3. I don’t think wheelchair tennis has had that kind of coverage before and especially before the rain the stadium was absolutely packed out. When you get the coverage and the support like that and British winners, too, it hopefully makes more and more people want to get in involved with the sport at all levels and engage with the Tennis Foundation’s efforts to develop and promote the sport. “
A series of momentum shifts in the opening set saw Hewett and Reid reel off four games in succession for a 4-2 lead. Despite coming from 5-2 down in the eventual tie-break it was not quite enough and Houdet and Peifer snatched the lead.
Rain forced the players off court at deuce in the second game of the second set, but Hewett and Reid came out firing on all cylinders on the resumption, taking a 4-0 lead before eventually forcing the decider.
Hewett and Reid went a break up midway through the final set and both players served for the match before top seeds Houdet and Peifer managed take the contest to another tie-break. However, Reid eventually forced the vital error with a drop shot and Peifer could not return the ball, giving the Brits back-to-to back Wimbledon titles.
“We were prepared for a hard match and that’s what we got, to it’s amazing to have retained the title,” said Rio Paralympic singles gold medallist Reid. “The crowd support out there all the way through was better than we could have hoped for. I just hope people will have seen the amazing standard of tennis out there and how much everyone here enjoyed it, as well as the people watching at home on TV, and that that can just continue to raise the profile of the sport and grow the sport as well, because it’s a fantastic sport.”
Jordanne Whiley will aim to secure another title on Sunday for British players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme when she partners Japan’s Yui Kamiji in the ladies’ doubles final. Whiley and Kamiji will be bidding for their fourth straight title in their fifth successive Wimbledon final.