Alcott secures Paris three-peat

Australian wins his 13th Grand Slam singles title - but he's about so much more than collecting trophies.

Dylan Alcott, Roland Garros 2021, quad singles final© Loïc Wacziak/FFT
 - Danielle Rossingh

There's something about the red clay in Paris that brings out the best in Dylan Alcott.

The top-seeded Australian beat his Dutch doubles partner, Sam Schroder, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday to win a third consecutive men’s quad wheelchair title at Roland-Garros.

“I really love clay,” Alcott told reporters after winning his 13th Grand Slam singles title. “I love Roland-Garros. I feel very lucky to be here at the moment with everything going on in the world.”

Although Alcott thoroughly enjoys life on Tour and winning titles, his main aim in life is to change people’s minds about disability.

“People think that my purpose in life is winning Grand Slams and tennis tournaments and gold medals and stuff like that,” said Alcott. “But my real purpose in life is trying to change perceptions so people with disability can do whatever they want to do.”

Alcott was born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord. Although the lump was removed when he was a few days old, it left him paraplegic. Having been bullied at high school in his early teens, he found solace in wheelchair basketball.

He was so good he ended up playing for the Australian wheelchair basketball team that won gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics and silver at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Dylan Alcott, Roland-Garros 2021, quad final© Loic Wacziak/FFT

Since making a successful switch to wheelchair tennis, Alcott has become a huge star in Australia. He won both the singles and doubles titles at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, rose to No.1 in the world and has collected 40 quad wheelchair singles titles.

Alcott is so popular back home, most of his matches at the Australian Open are scheduled on the big show courts. His match against Schroder in Paris was shown live on television in Australia.

“If anybody watches and goes, I thought wheelchair tennis would be bad; it's really great. Or, I didn't know they could do that, or I'm going to give someone in a wheelchair a job next time or ask them on a date or I'm going to treat them with respect at a cafe. Because they've seen people with a disability just being themselves, achieving things, that's why I do what I do,” he said.

Although Alcott is now half-way through the calender slam of all four majors in one year, he isn’t allowing himself to think too far ahead.

“I was hoping to win the Grand Slam in 2019 and won every match up until the final of the US Open, and I played the worst match I've ever played in my life, so I do not think about that ever again,” he said.

“I used to have expectations of myself to win. You can have a goal to win, but the only expectation you can have is to be the best version of you. That's all you can worry about.”

Meanwhile, Alfie Hewett added the singles title in the men’s wheelchair event to his doubles victory on Sunday as the Briton defeated Japanese No.1 Shingo Kunieda, 6-3, 6-4. It was the third Roland-Garros title for Hewett.

Alfie Hewett, Roland-Garros 2021, men's wheelchair singles final© LoÔc Wacziak/FFT

Also on Monday, the top-seeded Dutch pairing of Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot won their fourth consecutive Roland-Garros women's doubles title, beating Britain’s Jordanne Whiley and Japan’s Yui Kamiji 6-3, 6-4. De Groot beat Kamiji on Sunday to win a second Roland-Garros singles crown.