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Francesca Jones Overcomes Rare Genetic Condition to Qualify for Australian Open


British tennis player Francesca Jones defeated Jia-Jing Lu 6-0, 6-1 in the Australian Open qualifying tournament final to reach her first Grand Slam main draw. 

Her tournament berth isn't just remarkable because she defeated three higher-ranked players or because she was one of the lowest-seeded players in the tournament. Jones was diagnosed with ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome as a child. The condition left her with three fingers and a thumb on each hand and a total of seven toes.

"The doctors told me I wouldn't be able to play tennis due to whatever disadvantages they thought I had," Jones told the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

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Jones has undergone a multitude of surgeries and still struggles with balance. 

12 years after doctors gave her the grim news, the now-20-year-old Jones' dominant victory in the final made her the youngest of just three British females to qualify for 2021's first Grand Slam.

"The way I see it is that I am just playing the game with a different set of cards. But it doesn't mean those cards still can't win the game," Jones told BBC's Ross Fuller prior to qualifying.

Listed as the WTA's No. 241 player in the world, Jones will compete at her first major on Feb. 8.