Francesca Jones defies rare physical condition to qualify for Australian Open

The Briton, who suffers from ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome, beats China's Lu Jiajing in Dubai

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23: Francesca Jones plays a backhand shot during their round robin match against Heather Watson during Day Four of the Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis at the National Tennis Centre on December 23, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for LTA)
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A British tennis player who suffers from a rare genetic condition reached her maiden Grand Slam main draw after winning a qualifying event in Dubai.

Francesca Jones beat China's Lu Jiajing in the final round of Australian Open qualifying at the Aviation Club on Wednesday.

Jones suffers from ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome, a condition which meant she was born with three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on her right foot and four toes on her left.

The 20-year-old was told by doctors as a child that she would not be able to pursue a professional tennis career due to her physical disadvantages.

That only spurred Jones on to prove them wrong.

The world No 241 has made a habit of overcoming the odds and added a new chapter to her story when she beat China's Lu 6-0, 6-1 to book her ticket for Melbourne.

"I'm just super happy to qualify and really looking forward to getting out to Australia," said Jones, who has had over 10 surgeries in her life already.

"I've never been before and I'm sure it's going to be an amazing experience. I guess any draw for me would be a fascinating one. I look forward to any match I'll play, whether it'll be Serena Williams or another qualifier."

Jones will now board a chartered flight to Melbourne where the players will serve a mandatory 14-day quarantine before warm-up events start on January 31 before the Australian Open.

Also joining the Briton on the flight will be Italy's former world No 5 Sara Errani, who was a Roland Garros runner-up, a US Open semi-finalist and an Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2012 before slipping down the rankings.

The 33-year-old, currently ranked 131, booked her spot for the February 8-21 Grand Slam at Melbourne Park with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Croatian Ana Konjuh in the final round of qualifying.