By Emily Goddard

Esther Vergeer austrlian openDecember 12 - Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands and France's Stéphane Houdet have been named as the 2012 International Tennis Federation (ITF) wheelchair world champions.

Claiming the title for an astonishing 13th successive year, Vergeer (pictured top) enjoyed another remarkable season extending her winning streak to 470 matches en route to becoming the year-end world number ranked female player in the sport.

The 31-year-old became tennis' most successful Paralympian, claiming her fourth successive singles gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and won a total of 10 singles titles during the year, including the Grand Slam events at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

"Again I am very proud to be the year-end number one," Vergeer said.

"My main goal for this year was winning a gold medal in London, but being number one at the end of this year is something that I have worked for all-year long.

"So it is a crown for all the hard work I put in."

Houdet enjoyed a breakthrough year to be named the men's wheelchair world champion for the first time at the age of 42.

Stéphane Houdet london 2012Stéphane Houdet is the ITF men's wheelchair world champion

He won his first Grand Slam singles title on home soil at Roland Garros to take over the number one ranked spot, and stayed at the top for the rest of the year.

He was also a singles silver medallist at London 2012 and led France to victory in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

Houdet said: "This has been my best year with my first Grand Slam victory in my country in front of my friends and family, two Paralympic medals, and winning the World Team Cup.

"These are dreams come true, but also give me new dreams to continue along the same path."

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: "I would like to pay tribute to all the 2012 ITF World Champions, who have contributed to a successful year for the sport at all levels."

The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on June 4, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

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