STRATEGICALLY positioned in the sprawling, state-of-the art, four-acre network of streets and buildings on the Tokyo waterfront that they call Uniqlo City are giant posters of the Japanese clothing brand’s global ambassadors. Nestled next to shots of Australian golfer Adam Scott and Japanese tennis superstar Kei Nishikori is an over-sized image of a young man from Glasgow who has had to overcome the most severe barriers in his bid to become big in Japan. All things considered, Gordon Reid is entitled to feel he has come a long way since succumbing to the spinal condition transverse myelitis which has mostly confined him to a wheelchair. If it isn’t already, his profile in that part of the world will be sky-high by the time the Olympics hit Tokyo in 2020.

Reid’s story has been told before, but the stress here is less on the hard graft and unshakeable belief which led to his two Grand Slam singles wins and seven Grand Slam doubles titles than the fact the 26-year-old appears to have grasped better than many of his contemporaries how, in the modern world, playing his chosen sport is only ever half of the battle. The Scot has emerged as the most eloquent proponent of the wheelchair form of his sport, quietly cajoling tournament organisers and broadcasters to buy into it, an ongoing process which has seen prize money and exposure to show courts devoted to this form of the game increasing exponentially at most of the Grand Slams. If he reaches the final of the Australian Open wheelchair singles event in January, the match will played on the Rod Laver arena.

“Unless you put a bit of pressure on people, then nothing is going to happen,” said Reid. “If I didn’t think it merited it, then I wouldn’t do it – I am not just doing it for personal gain. It is like how Andy [Murray] is in the media when he sticks up for women’s tennis player’s rights. Somebody needs to stick up for wheelchair players’ rights too.

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“Wimbledon is a huge event but we are definitely part of that now, and a big attraction for a lot of people. We are playing to huge crowds and there are millions of people watching us on TV. You can’t tell us that we aren’t worth something.

“I probably do have to sell my sport more than most,” said Reid, who will go into the Australian Open as the No 1 in doubles and the No 4 in singles. “There’s probably two parts of that; the conscious part of purposefully going out there and trying to promote myself and the sport. Then the other part is when you are competing at events, just trying to produce good performances. Because at the end of the day if you are not winning matches or tournaments, no-one is really interested in you anyway.”

Lord knows there are battles still to fought – UK Sport decided this year that the sport should “fully self-fund” it’s world class programme, something which would have been an even more severe issue were it not for companies like Uniqlo stepping in to fill the void – but Reid’s awareness that he must also be the CEO of Gordon Reid plc is striking for a young man who left school at the age of 17 uncertain enough about the financial future offered by devoting his career to wheelchair tennis that he hedged his bets with a course at the University of Stirling.

Not that it has been a one-man journey. Reid isn’t only indebted to his parents for bankrolling his early tournaments abroad, he is thankful to his dad – an accountant – for doing the books each year.

“My dad still does all my accounts for me,” says Reid. “He has been really helpful at that and I think I am a bit of a nightmare for him because I am not always so organised when it comes to that sort of stuff.”

The 26-year-old is being modest here: part of the GB Paralympic team for Beijing in 2008 when he was aged just 16, Reid completed three Highers – two As and a B in maths, English and biology – during his time at Hermitage Academy, having been given special dispensation to complete them over two years. He was smart enough to sense that going all in on a niche sport like wheelchair tennis represented a risk; smarter still to realise that ultimately it was a risk worth taking.

“At the end of the day, everyone has to pay their bills and get through life,” says Reid. “If you can’t pay your way through your sport, you are not going to be able to commit yourself fully to it.

“I was already competing and travelling a lot with the Paralympics during school,” he added. “But as I was coming out of school I had a bit of a panic. All my pals were going on to university and my dad is a very sensible accountant, so he was like ‘you need to have a back-up plan’.

“I was starting to get worried and thinking I need to go to Uni, so at the last minute I organised going to Stirling to do psychology with sports studies. But I realised halfway through the year that I wasn’t going to be able to do both of them very well.

“I was missing lectures and seminars so I decided to stop and just commit myself fully to tennis. This was my one chance, you can only commit to tennis like this when you are young and you are fit. I can go to university at any time of my life, at any age these days.

“That was kind of my thinking. But that is also when you start thinking ‘wait a minute, how is this going to work financially. At the time I was lucky I was still staying with my mum and dad so the costs were much lower back then.”

Funded by the bank of mum and dad at first, Tennis Foundation support – and the assistance of coach Karen Ross – was a boon from the age of 14. So too was UK Sport support, based on medal potential, which climbed to around £28,000 per annum when he hit the top echelon. While costs for physio, sports science and hitting partners are borne by other agencies, there are entry fees to be paid for most of the 20 tournaments he plays each year, not to mention travel and accommodation. He has his own agent and pays for sessions his own private sports psychologist out his own pocket. A tennis wheelchair would cost around £4,000, but Reid has a relationship with British-firm RGK wheelchairs where they can provide him with bespoke designs.

“Sponsorship is the side that was never there,” says Reid. “Even when I was winning the Australian Open singles last year in singles, there was nothing there. Up until after the London Olympics, when I got sponsored by Adidas, I was buying my own kit and there was zero pounds coming in from the commercial side of things.

“For a company to look at someone like me back then, probably the only reason they would have sponsored you is some kind of personal connection or they just wanted to help you,” he added. “Now I think companies are really starting to realise that there is something to be gained from backing para athletes, particularly wheelchair tennis. The coverage we get has really grown a lot.”

As nice as these trappings of fame are, Reid admits they can be a distraction at times. Having fulfilled another of his lifelong ambitions when he graced Question of Sport this Autumn, the 26-year-old’s next challenge is to continue coming up with all the right answers.

**Gordon Reid was speaking in his role as an ambassador for McCrea Financial Services. The Glasgow-based firm provide independent financial advice for every stage of life: young professionals, young families, midlife and retirement. For more information visit www.mccreafs.co.uk.