Britain's Gordon Reid wins first Grand Slam title in Australian Open wheelchair final
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 30/01/16 10:00am
Britain's Gordon Reid secured his first Grand Slam singles title by conquering Belgium's Joachim Gerard in the wheelchair final of the Australian Open.
The Scot's maiden triumph was made all the sweeter as the friend that sat by his side 12 years ago, when his disease took hold, was there watching on in the crowd.
Reid was playing the first singles final of his career but showed no signs of nerves as he overcame Gerard 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to be crowned champion in Melbourne.
The 24-year-old enjoyed the support of a vocal group of school friends, who had travelled down from Perth to watch, but one in particular - Gary Peak - carried special significance.
"Gary's literally been there the whole journey, so it's amazing to have him here cheering me on," Reid said.
"He was there the day what happened happened. It was the Friday night. I stood up off my bed and my legs just gave way. The next day I woke up and was fine but then over the day, I lost all feeling from the waist down and I had really bad pains.
"Gary was the one sitting with me all day as it happened, keeping me company. He was there until the ambulance took me away to the hospital. I didn't even really think about that but it's pretty special to have him here. I gave him a big hug afterwards."
Reid contracted Transverse Myelitis - a disease affecting the spinal cord - aged 13 and wondered if he would ever be able to pick up a racket again.
"Winning a Grand Slam was never the goal when I started playing," Reid added.
"I just wanted to get back involved in sport and get active again. I never even dreamt... to be honest, I didn't even know wheelchair tennis existed. But as time went on, I realised I could be quite good at this."
After completing victory in an hour and 37 minutes, Reid flung his racket into the sky before punching the air in celebration.
Davis Cup captain Leon Smith was also in the stands, as well as Reid's coach Karen Ross, who has worked with him for nine years.
The Alexandria-born Briton arrives home on Tuesday and can expect a hero's welcome from his parents and two brothers and sister, who have all stayed up to watch his matches.
"Everybody is waiting for me. Everybody was setting their alarms for 2.30 in the morning back home," Reid said.
"They were all up watching it on the live player so my phone has just about blown up I think with all the messages.
"They've all booked their flights to Rio for the Paralympics in September so it's always amazing to have their support. It just makes everything a bit more special."
Reid has also struck up a rapport with Andy and Jamie Murray, who can make it a Scottish treble this weekend, with Jamie into the final of the men's doubles later on Saturday and Andy playing Novak Djokovic in the singles on Sunday.
"It's great to have their support," Reid said. "I saw Andy and Jamie in the locker room just after my match and I got a big congratulations from them."
The real celebrations, however, had to wait as Reid was due on court for the wheelchair doubles final, where he and partner Shingo Kunieda take on French pair Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer.