French Open 2024: Britain's Fran Jones on not playing Roland Garros (2024)

If you know Fran Jones’ story, you will know she has had to do things differently.

So it should not be a surprise the 23-year-old Briton decided not to make a late push - and risk her longer-term ambitions - to join the world’s leading stars at this week's French Open.

Jones is unique among British players, having grown up playing on clay and achieving her greatest successes on the surface.

However, the world number 295 opted against trying to play in qualifying at Roland Garros - the Grand Slam tournament which is the pinnacle of clay-court tennis.

“I could have pursued it but I’m not in a position where I’m willing to rush my body right now,” Jones, who barely played in 2022 and 2023 because of a string of injuries, told BBC Sport.

"This year's goal is to spend more time on a tennis court."

Jones was born with a genetic condition which means she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on her right foot and four toes on her left.

Doctors told her to forget about playing tennis professionally.

As a result, Jones left Bradford aged 10 and moved to Barcelona, joining the renowned Sanchez Academy to help fulfil her goals.

“The experience of a doctor telling me playing tennis was an almost impossible challenge was powerful,” Jones said.

“It made it a challenge in my head.

"My competitiveness is what has got me to this point and the determination to keep pushing myself.

"People need to keep dreaming big and I will keep dreaming big until the day I die."

Physical issues have hampered Jones’ progress in recent seasons and building her fitness remains a priority, having employed a full-time physio at the end of 2021.

Taking up road cycling and tackling the famous terrains around Girona, just north of her base in Barcelona, on long rides three times a week has improved stamina and strength.

This month Jones has played ITF events in Portugal, Italy and Spain as she continues to build robustness, and plans to start grass-court preparations for Wimbledon while her peers compete in Paris.

There are still setbacks, though. Last week she had to retire from an event in Madrid because of cramp.

“What I've found relatively tough, if not the biggest challenge so far, is getting into the rhythm of being a tennis player again - the lifestyle and its demands," Jones said.

“You get used to the nine-to-five of rehab when you’re injured.

“I’m building up more tournaments and looking for more consecutive weeks competing, but I’m going with the flow. Almost every tournament I play is a privilege.

“I’m not looking for a ratio of weeks, the objective is to play when I feel my body is ready to.”

When Dan Evans led the inquest into why there were no British women in last year's French Open singles, he suggested more youngsters needed to step out of their comfort zone.

Jones has never been afraid to do that.

Moving to Sanchez as one of the youngest among 120 players happened because Jones wanted to "get through barriers and jump hurdles".

Shortly before last year's Roland Garros came another pivotal moment - spending 10 weeks travelling around Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador.

After injuries and a split from her coach, Jones was not "mentally in a good place" and sought comfort in a region she "adores".

The support of Nadia Podoroska - the Argentine who reached the French Open semi-finals in 2020 and is one of Jones' best friends - was invaluable.

"I used the trip as an experiment. I wanted to see where I was at with my game, where I needed to improve, where I was physically," said Jones, who is a keen photographer and enjoys capturing her travels on Instagram., external

"As cliched as it sounds, it was a trip of self-discovery. I came out the trip more wise and knowing what I needed from my career at that point.

“Now I’m realising how much I'm enjoying being back on the tour, which I wasn’t sure if that would be the case coming back.”

Jones returned to South America this year before moving on to Mexico, where she reached the first WTA final of her career, losing to Podoroska.

That clay-court form led to a maiden call-up for Great Britain's Billie Jean King Cup squad in the play-off tie against France.

The dreams continue to be big.

"I'm not planning on sticking around this ranking," Jones added.

"If I am still at this ranking in a couple of years' time I think I will have a lot of considerations."

French Open 2024: Britain's Fran Jones on not playing Roland Garros (2024)
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