While the likes of Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios made waves during this year’s Wimbledon tournament in London, Aussie Dylan Alcott made history on Friday with Britain’s Andy Lapthorne when they became the first ever quad wheelchair doubles champions at the All England Club.
2019 marked the first time quad wheelchair tennis made competitive debut at Wimbledon, with Alcott and Lapthorne becoming the inaugural champions. The pair defeated American David Wagner and Japan’s Koji Sugeno 6-2 7-6 (7-4) to take out the title. Alcott – who is known for his passionate speeches – didn’t disappoint following his historic win.
The 28-year-old wheeled himself around the court to cheers from the crowd, congratulated his opponents and explained what the win means for him and others with disabilities. In the post-match presentation, he explained how important it was that the match was aired around the world and said that it “meant a lot” that people with disabilities were given the chance to play at Wimbledon.
“We’re professional athletes who train just as hard as the guys about to play on Centre Court,” he said, as reported by Newscorp. “To get respected and be able to get a return on investment — you can’t tell me people don’t want to watch. There’s a line outside of people trying to get in.”
He thanked everyone who showed up to watch him play and credited his family for their ongoing support. The Logie winner also encouraged anyone watching at home to tell their friends about these kinds of matches.
“As I said, it’s not just wheelchair tennis, Paralympic sport is amazing all around the world and we want to leave the sport in a better spot for the next generation of young athletes to come and it’s an honour to be able to carry the torch,” he told the crowd.
Taking to Facebook following his win, Alcott shared some photographs of himself and Lapthorne with their trophy.
“Cheeky little Wimbledon Doubles Champions with my guy @andylapthorne_,” he wrote. “What an atmosphere and live on @bbc and all around the world!”
Fans were quick to congratulate Australia’s newest Wimbledon champion.
One person said: “Absolute Champion and Inspiration!!! Congratulations, looking forward to watching you try and get the double.”
A second comment read: “You two are amazing. Well done. You have done yourselves and Australia proud.”
A third added: “Congratulations doesn’t seem enough. You guys are legends in every sense of the word. Enjoy your win.”
While Alcott and Lapthorne are champions now and celebrating together, they’ll actually compete against each other on Saturday for the quad wheelchair singles final.
It’s not the first time Alcott has given a speech about disabilities. The athlete won the Graham Kennedy award for most popular new talent at the Logies earlier this month for his involvement in the Invictus Games.
“This award means a lot to me because I used to absolutely hate having a disability. I’ve been in a wheelchair my whole life and I hated it,” he told the audience. “One of the reasons I did hate it was when I turned on the TV, I never saw anybody like me.”
He said the only time he saw a person with a disability was for road safety commercials and the result of car accidents was always a person becoming disabled.
“I wanted to show that people with a disability can be talented, funny, humorous – just normal people who are enjoying their lives,” he added.