Written by Staff Writer
Beijing (CNN) — Filipino player Diede de Groot put wheelchair tennis on the international map on Sunday, becoming the first player to complete the “golden slam” of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open
De Groot secured the feat at the 16th attempt, securing a straight-sets win over Taiwan’s Yixin Lin in the women’s singles final at the BWF World Open in Shanghai.
After conceding a set and leading 3-1 in the second, Lin rallied to win the last two games to force a decider, but de Groot broke in the third game to go 4-3 up, clinching the win 6-4, 6-4.
“I was feeling tired at the end but I just tried to stay focused and focused the whole match,” the 35-year-old told reporters.
De Groot also earned the new classification of world number one to cap off her special achievement, becoming the fourth wheelchair player to be ranked number one after Doug Darling, the late Ed Burke and Martina Navratilova.
“It’s just unbelievable. I never thought I’d get here,” said de Groot, who won Olympic gold in 2008 and was also named best female player at the BBKNY Wheelchair Tennis Awards in 2015.
During Sunday’s final, de Groot was presented with the Judy Murray Award, named after the late mother of tennis star Andy Murray.
“I have coached tennis for 20 years and watching the person that I’ve seen, I would just say she’s just an amazing athlete,” Murray said of de Groot during a ceremony at Hurlingham Club in east London.
“She’s improved every year and to be here is just pretty inspiring. I can’t wait to follow her career.”
At this point, de Groot noticed Murray was wearing red and red lipstick — the color of her Spanish competitor, fellow world number one Simona Halep.
It spurred de Groot to swear at Halep, forcing her to wear red lipstick to comply with new rules.
There’s now a wait of 24 hours before the ranking update with the national association, which confirms whether de Groot or Halep will claim the top spot.
Previously, the world number one ranking needed to be held for one year.
“I think all the girls are happy to be the number one and the first one,” de Groot said after being presented with the award, later adding: “I think she’s a great champion and I was inspired to be a champion as well, so it’s been a very good combination for me.”
The best player in wheelchair tennis said it was the rain that played a part in her success.
Rain hurt Lin
De Groot won her four majors during the past 15 months, winning Roland Garros earlier this year, then becoming the first player in history to win the US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon in the same year.
However, Sunday’s final saw her bid for a first-ever Grand Slam title in the United States.
The week-long BWF World Open in Shanghai served as de Groot’s final event before she heads to Rio de Janeiro in September, where she will battle for the gold medal at the Paralympic Games.
“It feels awesome. I’ve wanted this forever and I have to enjoy it now and enjoy the rest of my life,” she said.
At last year’s US Open, Halep was suffering with injuries and illness and went down in the semifinals.
The 25-year-old Romanian has since won two titles and is an eight-time top 10 player.
Having finished on top of her sport before, de Groot said she was enjoying having a little “baby” waiting for her at the top.
“I would never trade anything for it,” she said.
“I like my life. I like the good things in life.”