Johana Martinez has been announced as the winner of the 2020 UNIQLO Spirit Award by the International Tennis Federation ©ITF

Colombian wheelchair player Johana Martinez has been announced as the winner of the 2020 UNIQLO Spirit Award by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The prize was launched in 2017 to recognise a wheelchair tennis athlete who seeks "to challenge and change the world around them by challenging themselves and striving for the highest standards imaginable".

They must also pursue their goals with an "innovative spirit and a shared desire to see wheelchair tennis continually moving forward to ever greater heights".

A judging panel comprised of ITF Wheelchair Tennis Committee members and the ITF's head of wheelchair tennis Alistair Williams comprised a shortlist of nominations, with clothing company UNIQLO, a major backer of the sport, invited to pick the winner.

Martinez was nominated by the Colombian Tennis Federation in recognition of her dual role as a leading player and ambassador for wheelchair tennis in the nation for the past two decades.

The 40-year-old became the first South American player to compete at the Paralympics at Beijing 2008.

She won 20 titles and rose to a career high of number 21 in the world rankings, while also promoting wheelchair tennis in Colombia and abroad through development activities.

Martinez follows South Africa's Patrick Selepe and Americans Nick Taylor and Karin Korb as a winner of the award, and receives a cash prize of $5,000 (£3,700/€4,200).

"For me it is a great honour to win the UNIQLO Spirit Award 2020," she said.

"This prize means everything, a beautiful recognition of my history and my passion for wheelchair tennis.

"I get this award thanks to many people who have believed in me and our sport, including the Colombian Tennis Federation and the ITF. 

"I'm sure we will continue working together promoting wheelchair tennis - and now also with the Ganbare Foundation, which I created this year to keep supporting this inclusive sport, to give more opportunities to our society and to keep growing the sport around the world.

"Thanks to UNIQLO for everything you are doing for wheelchair tennis and the athletes, you are so valuable for us. 

"And many thanks to my team, especially my family who is my big support in this journey. 

"While I promote the sport, I will keep pushing forward as an athlete going for my goals: playing my last Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year, and motivating more people and athletes to go for their dreams."

Manoj Soma of Choice International, a UK-based international development organisation which uses disability sports as a platform to address social inequality, was named as runner-up for this year's award.