Wheelchair tennis
Wheelchair tennisiStock

Israel’s Guy Sasson won a first Grand Slam title on his debut at the Roland Garros tournament in Paris, after beating Sam Schroder 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7) for the Quad Wheelchair Singles title, as reported by The Jewish News.

The crowd broke into excited cheers as Sasson, 44, dedicated his win to, “The four rescued Israeli hostages,” shouting “Am Yisrael Chai.”

Sasson was able-bodied until a freak winter sports accident in 2015 left him partially disabled. He was determined to recover, even though becoming a tennis champion was not one of his goals.

Wheelchair tennis has been a part of all four Grand Slams since 2007, and at the Summer Paralympics and Sasson is looking forward to making his Wimbledon debut.

Sasson spoke of this as “a dream come true.” He is currently living with his wife and four children in Houston, Texas, as his wife, a doctor, takes specialist medical training. He hopes to bring his family to Wimbledon, where he will play doubles with British wheelchair quad athlete Andy Lapthorne.

The local Jewish community in Sydney displayed immense enthusiasm and turned out in droves to cheer him on, singing Hebrew songs and chanting “Bring Them Home” for the hostages. Sasson told Jewish News that he was extremely grateful for the Australian support and hoped to get the same support from British Jews at the singles and doubles in Britain — at Roehampton, in the warm-up for Wimbledon, on July 3-5, and then at Wimbledon itself from July 10.

After his service in the Israel Defence Forces, Sasson attended the University of Michigan, studying business, and only became a wheelchair user in 2015, after falling off a cliff while snowboarding in France. He was flown to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel, and following major surgery on my spine and hand, the doctors told him that he wouldn’t walk again. But, defying all odds, after a year in rehab, Sasson did walk out – “with braces and canes.”

Keen to stay active, Sasson started on a slow process into professional tennis, without sharing the news with others. “At first, I didn’t tell anyone—not even my wife,” he said.

Now he is on top of the world and is delighted to be making his first London appearance. After that, he is headed back to Paris for the Paralympics later in the summer.