Marcus Willis stepped onto Wimbledon’s Centre Court today ranked 772 in the world. His opponent, Roger Federer, is regarded by many as the greatest player of all time.
Willis had never played a main tour-level match until this week. At 25, he lives with his parents and earns his living as a tennis coach — not a bad life! He made it into a wildcard pre-qualifying draw for the qualifying competition at Wimbledon only after another player dropped out, but he played and won six matches to make it into the main tournament. In the first round, he defeated a player ranked 718 spots above him. That gave him the right to play on tennis’ grandest stage today.
After Marcus lost the first set 6-0 to Federer, I said a little prayer that he would win at least one game. He actually won seven over three sets. He held his own against someone who has the finest coaches, physical therapists and anything else a tennis player needs at his fingertips, someone who will never have to worry about how to pay the rent or provide for his family.
Marcus’ Wimbledon experience will change his life forever. His story transcends tennis. Against all odds he lived his dream and hopefully will continue to live it.
I want my daughter to live her dreams, to help people understand that being born with an extra chromosome still gives you a right to shine on stages people with the usual number of chromosomes do, whether it’s Centre Court or a college graduation ceremony. As I have written before, we have been lucky with Ellen. With some extra assistance for fine motor skills, she is holding her own in a regular classroom. She is a Daisy, the youngest age group for Girl Scouts. She has many years ahead of her, and my husband and I have our end of the bargain to hold up for her future. I hope she will qualify for main draws in all areas of life and enjoy the highs and lows that go along with trying.