Martin Sisters Ready to Compete at the 2023 World Games
Move over Venus and Serena Williams. There’s a new sister-tennis-duo ready to take the world stage.
Gabriella and Julianna Martin are headed to the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany where they will compete in the Unified tennis competition.
Gabriella is a Special Olympics Colorado athlete who has been competing for 17 years. Her younger sister, Julianna, is a Unified partner who only started competing 5 years ago. Gabriella started playing tennis about 8 years ago. “I like tennis and I thought it would be a cool activity to try,” she explained. “And I like watching it on TV. Like when Serena [Williams] would play, I was like, ‘Oh this is so cool, now I want to do it!’”
Three years later, Julianna joined her sister’s team. “I started playing because
[Gabriella] was playing and I like Special Olympics Colorado, so I wanted to help out,” said Julianna, who had never played tennis before joining the team.
In 2022, they got the call that would change their lives. “I got a phone call when I was going to my job,” said Gabriella on being notified she and Julianna were selected to go to World Games. “I picked up and, oh my god, I almost hung up I was so excited!” After work, she went home and let Julianna know the great news.
“It made me feel proud to know [Special Olympics Colorado] wanted me to play [at World Games] and saw how much I practice and compete,” explained Gabriella. Julianna didn’t realize the duo were in the running, but is grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to going to Berlin.
To prepare for Wolrd Games, the Martin sisters headed to San Antonio, Texas in November 2022 for the Special Olympics USA Team Trials. There, they got to know most of the athletes on the Special Olympics USA team and got to meet the rest of their tennis team and coaches. They learned new things on how to improve their tennis skills and overall how to become a better player.
Gabriella said her favorite part about Team Trials was getting to practice hitting the ball, while also cheering on the tennis team and practicing with each other. While Julianna mentioned she really enjoyed the dinners, she also liked talking to people and learning more about how others are training.
At World Games, the sisters will be competing doubles together and Gabriella will also be competing in the singles competition. Julianna mentioned that she’s glad that she’ll have someone going to World Games that she already feels comfortable with. “I’m a pretty shy person and going with my sister is nice because you have someone you already know,” she explained. “It’s also really cool because it’s going to be Martin and Martin when they announce us.”
Not only are they excited about going to Germany in general, but the Martin sisters are also looking forward to meeting other athletes from different countries and competing against them. Julianna also mentioned she’s looking forward to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as the food.
“My hope [for World Games] is that people will watch us and be inspired to attend their own World Games in the future,” said Gabriella, who mentioned she is also excited to have her coworkers at the school she works at watch her on TV.
Julianna hopes that, like the Special Olympics Athlete Oath states, they’re brave in the attempt at World Games. “But I want us to score a lot of points if we can,” she stated. “I don’t want to have any matches where we get loves [no points]. I want us to fight a little.”
“And really want to eat a pretzel,” added Julianna, to which Gabriella responded, “Yeah, eat a pretzel in Germany!”
The Martin sisters’ journey to World Games begins on June 10, when they take off for Germany. We’ll be cheering them on from all of us at Special Olympics Colorado!
If you would like to support Gabriella and Julianna, click the links below:
To learn more about the Colorado delegation representing Special Olympics USA, click here.