Jordanne Whiley MBE, KalliKids Ambassador
About Jordanne Whiley MBE
Jordanne is an inspirational Wheelchair Tennis player who has won Wimbledon and Roland Garros. She is GB number 1, ranked number 6 in the world and is training for her third Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
Jordanne was awarded an MBE at the Queens Birthday Honors list in 2015.
Aged just 14, Jordanne was Britain's youngest ever national women's singles champion in Wheelchair Tennis having been travelling to tournaments across the world from the age of 12 (even competing in the World Cup aged 12). Jordanne can walk unaided but was told as a child that she would not be able to walk, let alone play sport.
She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta which she inherited from her father. Osteogenesis imperfecta is otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease which is a congenital disorder where bones are brittle and prone to fracture.
Jordanne started to play tennis at the very young age of three, hitting balls at the side of the court whilst her Dad played tennis himself. By then, her Dad was retired from para-athletics, having himself won a Bronze Medal in the New York Olympics in 1984. Jordanne lives and trains in London and helps coach children who are just starting their own journey in Wheelchair Tennis.
KalliKids Interview with Jordanne Whiley MBE
How did you start playing Wheelchair Tennis and was it as a child?
I started hitting tennis balls at the side of the courts where my Dad was competing and was "talent-spotted"! That first time was in Israel and the local teams were so impressed by my hitting that the local press even came along to film me.
Things evolved very quickly from then on. I started training seriously throughout my childhood and competed in my first World Cup aged just 12.
How do you think Wheelchair Tennis has helped you?
Playing a competitive sport and training hard to achieve success has taught me so many things: confidence, determination, independence, social skills, how to deal with any situation and so much more. These skills and experience are great for every child to learn but there is something extra special about learning them as a disabled child.
Many parents with disabled children become quite protective of their children and unintentionally hold them back thinking their child will get hurt or disappointed. Overcoming physical challenges though gives you so much confidence, independence and a real sense of achievement in a way not everyone can understand. You also make friends for life and build a life of your own.
When you have children would you like to see them compete in sport?
I am looking forward to having children one day and my goal is for them to be happy, find the thing they love to do and work hard at it. I will encourage them to try different sports, encourage them to take training seriously and compete but I will never force them.
What piece of advice do you have for Mums and Dads out there?
Let your child try new things, let them do the things they love, don't pressurise them and don't hold them back! I see children come along to coaching classes and discover what sport is and realise that they are good at something. Their eyes are full of excitement and they get so much joy from playing.
Jordanne and KalliKids support CURE International Children's Charity
CURE operates hospitals around the world specialising in orthopaedics, neurosurgery, reconstructive surgery and maternity care.