Diede the Great doubles up in Paris

 - Danielle Rossingh

Dutchwoman claims her second singles Roland-Garros crown with victory over last year's champion Kamiji

Diede de Groot, Roland Garros 2021, wheelchair singles final© Amélie Laurin/FFT

Nothing brings out the best in wheelchair tennis star Diede de Groot like playing in front of a crowd.

The top-seeded Dutchwoman beat her long-time rival Yui Kamiji 6-4, 6-3 to clinch her second Roland-Garros singles title on Sunday.

“Thank you everyone for coming here, coming out to watch us,” De Groot told the crowd during the trophy ceremony on Court 13, after winning her 10th major singles championship.

“It’s very nice to play with people here again, the atmosphere is really nice, and I am really enjoying being here."

De Groot, whose last name means “The Great” in Dutch, goes by the name '@Diedethegreat' on Twitter.

Since turning pro, the 24-year-old has dominated her sport and become a well-known sports personality back home in the Netherlands.

In 2019, De Groot clinched her first Roland-Garros trophy to become the first player in wheelchair history to hold all four major singles titles at the same time. 

Diede de Groot, Yui Kamiji, Roland Garros 2021, wheelchair singles final© Amélie Laurin/FFT

That was a feat not even mastered by Dutch wheelchair legend Esther Vergeer, who famously established a win streak of 470 matches in a decade and helped put the sport on the map in the Netherlands.

Her win over Kamiji will be a nice boost for De Groot’s hopes of winning a Paralympic gold singles medal in Tokyo this summer. The Dutch Paralympic team will be led by the now-retired Vergeer.

“It will be my second Paralympics – I’ve trained for it really hard – I’ve trained for four years,” De Groot told the ITF website in an interview last month. "I’m looking forward to playing there and feeling that it’s the Paralympics; that special feeling when you get goosebumps when you enter the court."

Between them, De Groot and Kamiji have now won 16 of the last 17 Grand Slam singles titles. The only other player to have won a major title in that time was another Dutchwoman, Aniek van Koot, at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

“We always have good matches, and today we both played well,” De Groot told Kamiji, after extending her lead over the second-seeded Japanese player to 21-15.

Before Paris, De Groot triumphed at the Barcelona Open, beating Kamiji in the final. It was the only event the Dutchwoman played since defeating her Japanese rival at the title match of the Australian Open in February in a close three-set match.

“Congratulations to Diede and her coach as well, you were a great opponent today, and you played very well,” Kamiji told De Groot at the trophy ceremony.

This was the pair’s third meeting in a final in Paris. They also contested the title match at Roland-Garros in 2018, when Kamiji won in three sets, and 2019, when De Groot dropped just one game.

“I’m very happy to play with you and against you every time,” said the second-seeded Japanese player, who also thanked for tournament organisers for hosting the event in “such a difficult situation".