From tragedy to triumph

Published 1506 GMT (2306 HKT) December 5, 2013
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Lucas Sithole is quickly becoming an inspirational figure for those in his native South Africa. He became the first African to win a U.S. Open title in September. Reg Caldecott
Sithole lost both of his legs and most of his right arm when he fell under a train at the age of 12. He began playing wheelchair tennis only seven years ago. Reg Caldecott
Attending a secondary school in northeastern South Africa, close to Pretoria, helped Sithole to recover mentally following his accident. Tennis Foundation
He played his first international tournament in the Netherlands -- the home of wheelchair legend Esther Vergeer -- in 2006. In his first match he was "double bageled" 6-0 6-0. Reg Caldecott
South Africa's Davis Cup captain, John-Laffnie de Jager, has watched Sithole in action and says, "I'm not surprised he won a grand slam. I felt he had the capability, mental strength and work ethic to do that." Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Sithole beat world No.1 David Wagner of the U.S. in the quads final in New York. The two are now regular foes at tournaments, having faced off most recently at the Wheelchair Masters in California. There Wagner won in three sets. Robert Prezioso/Getty Images
When it comes to wheelchair tennis, Vergeer is without question the best of all time. She retired this year, ending her career with a 10-year winning streak spanning nearly 500 matches. Julian Finney/Getty Images
According to Sithole's coach, South Africa is a country that especially backs athletes with physical impairments. Double amputee Oscar Pistorius made history by competing at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Michael Steele/Getty Images