Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador has been very generous in supporting those who have lost everything as an aftermath of devastating floods in Pakistan. During his visit to Gilgit and Hunza, he announced 10,000 USD from Bryan Brothers to provide shelter to homeless. His sympathy and thoughtfulness extends to many avenues, now he is standing by wheelchair tennis players, most of them are soldiers from wars.
To demonstrate his commitment to spread the message of peace and sports, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi met Esther Vergeer, the wheelchair tennis champion who has won an amazing 401 tennis matches without a loss. A record that dates all the way back to 2003, including the fact that Vergeer has never lost a singles match in Grand Slam competition.
Vergeer started playing tennis twenty years ago in her rehabilitation centre at the age of eight. She lost her legs in a surgery accident. “When my legs were paralyzed I thought I will not be able to do much, but after learning and playing tennis I realized that there is still a lot that I can do.” Said Vergeer. “I know I can’t be as good as the normal tennis players but I try to do my best and enjoy it.”
Vergeer invited Qureshi, the current world No. 18 doubles player, to try playing tennis in a wheelchair, which he accepted.
While expressing his feelings after the game, Qureshi said “What an amazing achievement in our sport. She is an inspiration for all of us. We take things for granted, we have backaches , we twist our ankle and we start complaining, and there she is without her legs and full of motivation" he further said "more people should know about Esther's achievements and we should promote wheelchair tennis.”
“He is already spreading peace message through tennis and wheelchair tennis is part of that because wheelchair tennis is going to be big, especially for the soldiers from wars. I appreciate that he wants to promote it” said Vergeer.
Bopanna and Qureshi are trying to spread the message that sport is a universal language that facilitates dialogue - they are promoting it through their humanitarian campaign Stop War! Start Tennis!