I wanted to show everyone! – Deaf star Lee revels in history-making win
Victory on Monday made Lee Duck-hee the first deaf player to win a main-draw match, and he now hopes to provide inspiration for others.
Lee Duck-hee was determined to show those who “made fun of” his hearing disability as he became the first deaf player to win on the ATP Tour at the Winston-Salem Open.
The South Korean defeated Henri Laaksonen 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to make history with a breakthrough main-draw victory.
For Lee, it was proof that he could succeed despite the challenges he faces and he hopes it will provide inspiration to others.
“People made fun of me for my disability. They told me I shouldn’t be playing,” he said after the win.
“It was definitely difficult, but my friends and family helped me get through. I wanted to show everyone that I could do this.
“My message for people who are hearing impaired is to not be discouraged. If you try hard, you can do anything.”
Duckhee Lee makes history at the @WSOpen
Learn his story
“I realized I was deaf when I was six years old.”
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) August 20, 2019
Lee’s achievement had others on the Tour marvelling, including Andy Murray, who acknowledged the difficulty of playing without hearing.
“If I was to play with headphones on, it’s unbelievably difficult to pick up the speed of the ball, the spin that’s coming off the racquet,” Murray said.
“We use our ears a lot to pick things up. It’s obviously a huge disadvantage, so to be able to do what he’s doing is a huge effort.”
Tennys Sandgren, who beat Murray on Monday, added: “You learn so much about how your opponent hits the ball based on the sound of the shot.
“If you can’t hear it, you have to have insane skill and insane talent.”