Let’s hear it for the girls! British veteran tennis star Heather Watson reaches fourth round at Wimbledon to delight of Centre Court crowd including Anna Wintour and Princess Michael of Kent – and could Katie Boulter join her tomorrow?
- British starlet Heather Watson is through to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time
- Court One roared with delight after the 30-year-old from Guernsey beat Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan in two sets
- Love Island fan Watson has overcome racism and death threats to get to the fourth round
- She joins British player Katie Boulton in next week’s tennis after Emma Raducanu crashed out
- Watson will face Germany’s Jule Niemeier, the world No 97, for a place in the quarter-finals
British starlet Heather Watson is through to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time after defeating Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan in straight sets.
Court One roared with delight after the 30-year-old from Guernsey beat world No 62 Juvan 7-6 6-2, as she raised Britain’s hopes of tennis success at SW19 this year after Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray crashed out early.
Love Island fan Watson, whose mother Michelle is from Papua New Guinea, has overcome racism and death threats to get to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. The closest she had previously come to the fourth round was at Wimbledon in 2015, when she served for the match against US superstar Serena Williams but lost 7-5 in the third.
There was a Watson-esque wobble at the end, but she got over the line with her first match point after five deuces, before collapsing to the turf in delight and kissing the court.
An ecstatic Watson joked in her post-match interview with the BBC: ‘It wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a bit of drama at the end. And wow, what an atmosphere. There is nowhere I would rather be and you guys got me over the line. I felt she was playing her best tennis at the end. I wasn’t that nervous. But fourth round for the first time, I’m so happy.’
She added: ‘It means everything, playing here at home in front of you guys, the atmosphere is everything. Please can all of you come back for my fourth round next week.’
Watson will face Germany’s Jule Niemeier, the world No 97, for a place in the quarter-finals next week.
Heather Watson grinning from ear to ear as she beats Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan at Wimbledon today
Watson kissed the grass at Court One as she beat Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan today
Watson celebrates victory against Kaja Juvan during her third-round match at Wimbledon today
An ectastic Watson celebrating getting through to the fourth round of Wimbledon today for the first time
Heather Watson in action during her third-round match against Kaja Juvan at Wimbledon today
Watson kissed the grass as she triumphed over Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan at her third-round match at Wimbledon today
Watson hugs Kaja Juvan after beating her in straight sets in her third-round Wimbledon clash today
A wide shot of Watson reaching to hit a ball during her Court One clash with Juvan of Slovenia today
Watson’s mother Michelle, right, celebrating her daughter’s Court One victory at Wimbledon today
Watson celebrates a point during her third-round match at Wimbledon’s Court One today
Watson in action during her third round match against Kaja Juvan on Court One today
Princess Michael of Kent and Lady Marina Windsor as they attend the fifth day of the Wimbledon championships today
Luke Wintour and Anna Wintour attending the fifth day of action at Wimbledon today
Andrew Levitas and Katherine Jenkins at Wimbledon on an action-packed fifth day today
Channel Islander Heather Watson poses for a photo at Mount Joy in Pennsylvania, US, in August 2018
Watson shows off her figure while wearing swimwear in Miami, Florida in March 2019
Watson takes a selfie in this photo posted on her Instagram account in September last year
Boults from the blue! Will Leicester-born starlet Katie Boulter join Heather Watson in next week’s action at SW19?
Katie Boulter making her way to the practice courts today
Hopes have been raised that Leicester-born starlet Katie Boulter will join Heather Watson in next week’s action at Wimbledon.
Yesterday Boulter, 25, triumphed over ex-Wimbledon finallist Karolina Pliskova and dedicated the win to her grandmother, who died just two days earlier.
Her mother, Sue Boulter, was seen beaming with pride as she watched her daughter triumph over the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova in the second round match from the players’ box, while fans roared in support and many cried.
The next day, Sue Boulter said the whole family felt proud of how her daughter ‘continues to deal with whatever is thrown in her path’.
She said: ‘The whole family is so proud of the way Katie performed yesterday and how she continues to deal with whatever is thrown in her path. It goes without saying we will be supporting her all the way.’
Boulter’s boyfriend and fellow Wimbledon player, Sydney-native Alex De Minaur, also paid tribute to her win after beating Briton Jack Draper on Thursday evening.
The top men’s player in Australia told journalists: ‘What she was able to do today was an amazing effort.
‘I mean, under all the circumstances, you know, she got out there on Centre Court, and beaten last year’s runner-up. So I think that’s pretty special. I’m just stoked for her. You know, this is her home slam. She gets to enjoy it.
‘I know she was a little bit nervous going in, but, you know, she’s gone out and put on a brilliant performance.
‘For me, more than anything, I just loved to see her back. You know, I think this is back where she belongs, and in no time she will be even higher than ever.
‘I think she’s got an incredible level, and she’s been showing it all this grass season. I’m very proud of her.’
Tennis fan Hillary, 68, said Boulter’s late grandmother was a school teacher who had taught her geography at a high school in Leicester decades ago.
Hillary, who did not want to say too much about Boulter’s family out of respect, said: ‘I’ve met her several times, here (at Wimbledon), her grandmother. She was a lovely, lovely teacher.’
The Channel Islander can at least treat herself to a day off – doubles notwithstanding – after achieving the rare feat of playing singles on each of the first five days this week, as her previous two matches carried over from the day before.
Watson has slipped to 121st in the world rankings and fourth in Britain, and although she has tasted notable success in doubles, she has never been able to sustain a challenge in singles at the top level, her best Wimbledon performances being reaching the third round three times.
She came through an awkward first set full of slices and drop shots against 21-year-old Juvan and did not let her head drop after blowing three set points in the tiebreak before taking it 8-6 on a double fault by the 60th-ranked Slovenian.
Energised, Watson blasted to a 5-0 lead in the second set, adding power and confidence to her groundstrokes, and though Juvan launched a late rally, Watson prevailed to cap a week to remember in which she has been on court five days in a row after her first two matches ran into second days.
She reached today’s third-round clash after beating China’s Wang Qiang in a match bisected by Love Island, four hours’ sleep and a double dose of caffeine gel.
The 30-year-old Channel Islander was leading Qiang 7-5, 3-0 late on Wednesday night and all was well with the world. But as darkness enveloped Court 18 she failed to serve out the match and play was called off for the night at 7-5, 5-4.
Asked yesterday whether she turned to her beloved Love Island to decompress, she replied: ‘I actually did to wind down. I slept awful last night because during my match I had to take caffeine to keep up for it when we’re playing at 9pm.’
After all that Watson came out – dosed up on caffeine again – and 14 points and eight minutes later had won 7-5, 6-4.
‘I feel as I’ve gotten older my highs aren’t as high but my lows aren’t as low,’ she said. ‘I’m more level-headed. Making my first third round, I was on top of the world. But I think it’s better being how I am now.’
The beaming Watson could not have cut a greater contrast to Harriet Dart as she lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to No 8 seed Jessica Pegula.
All British players are ‘at home’ at the All England Club but Dart is part of the family – her mother is a member.
This was Dart’s 12th match on grass this year and Pegula’s second, so an upset was on the cards, certainly after the Brit took a 4-1 lead. But Pegula, daughter of the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Bills, found her groove.
Dart became frenetic as she rushed service games and took irate swipes at balls, her bag and the turf.
‘I was missing so many balls, playing pretty average,’ she said. ‘I was getting frustrated. It’s about finding solutions and today I didn’t.’
In the past, British starlet Watson has been forced to overcome death threats and even racist abuse from social media trolls.
‘I have had to deal with a handful of death threats. The WTA takes them very seriously and works with the police to investigate and catch these people,’ she said.
Of the abuse she has received, she said: ‘I’ve been called a monkey and told to go back to the zoo. That hurt. It’s just so disappointing and sad. It’s usually when I lose a match and mostly from men who have gambled on me to win. They pick on my race.’
But added: ‘It’s been easiest to just block anyone who is offensive, but I’d like to see them say it to my face.’
The tennis was speaking to You magazine when she spoke about the threats. She had been reflecting on the painful split with former boyfriend and tennis pro Lloyd Glasspool last year after their ‘passionate and intense’ two-year affair.
Asked if she would date another player, she said emphatically: ‘Hell, no! It’s just too tough. I would never mix business with pleasure again.’
Watson said the fact that Lloyd was also in the game took its toll, with their busy schedules meaning they had to be content with ‘lots of FaceTiming’.
Heather Watson attending the WTA Summer Party 2019 at Jumeirah Carlton Tower on June 28, 2019, left, and at the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 23, 2016 on the right
Heather Watson and ex-boyfriend Lloyd Glasspool at the Battle of the Sexes movie premiere in London on October 7, 2017
Watson pictured in a pool with tennis player-turned-banker Phil Stephens, her first serious boyfriend
Watson poses for a photo while in the sea in September 2020
Watson wearing a Little Mermaid-themed outfit in a photo from November 2019, left. Right, Watson in January 2020
Watson playing a backhand during her third-round match against Kaja Juvan of Slovenia today
Watson embraced Juvan after beating her in two sets on the fifth day of the championships today
Watson joking during a post-match interview with the BBC on Court One at Wimbledon today
Channel Islander Heather Watson celebrating her third-round victory at Wimbledon today
Watson hitting the match-winning point against Juvan on Court One at Wimbledon today
She admitted: ‘We blew hot and cold, we ended up arguing a lot and I guess we both put our careers first. We didn’t talk for a while. I had to get him out of my system.’
At a recent chance meeting with her ex, ‘we got on like a house on fire, which was annoying, but we’re over and we’ve got to move on’.
She also spoke of the heartbreak at the end of her first serious relationship, which was with junior tennis player turned banker Phil Stephens in 2015.
‘Breaking up was so hard that I didn’t think I would survive,’ she said. ‘Something so painful happened that I had to end it and it took me nearly a year to get over him. I don’t really want to go into it.’
‘Can we just talk about Katie Boulter today?’: British tennis star’s Australian boyfriend Alex De Minaur wins over Wimbledon crowd with adorable shout-out to his girlfriend after dumping another Brit hopeful out of tournament
Australian tennis star Alex De Minaur gave an adorable shout-out to his British girlfriend Katie Boulter after her dramatic second-round victory over last year’s Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova.
The 19th seed managed to win over the crowd on Court One after defeating British hopeful Jack Draper in a four-set tussle last night.
Speaking on court afterwards, De Minaur, who was watched by Boulter, told the BBC: ‘Before we talk about my match, can we just talk about Katie Boulter today? I mean, she had a pretty good win herself.’
He went on: ‘I’m extremely stoked to get this win. It was a battle out there. Jack’s a hell of a competitor, hell of a talent, and he’s got a very bright future ahead of him.’
Sydney-born de Minaur, 23, and Leicester girl Boulter, 25, who have been dating for more than a year, will both be in action at SW19 again tomorrow.
Boulter tearfully dedicated her stunning Wimbledon win over last year’s finalist Pliskova to her grandmother, who died on Tuesday – the same day she rompted to her first victory of the tournament by beating France’s Clara Burel.
The rising star – who has posed for Vogue and often shares glamorous snaps on her Instagram – saw off the Czech in three action-packed sets on Centre Court to make the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
Among the relatives watching Boulter in the stands was her mother, Sue Boulter, was also seen beaming with pride as she watched her daughter triumph over the Czech Republic’s Pliskova from the player’s box. Her grandfather, who invented the anti-theft tags found on clothes in shops, also attended yesterday’s Centre Court clincher.
Australian tennis star Alex De Minaur gave an adorable shout out to his British girlfriend Katie Boulter after her dramatic second-round victory over last year’s Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova
Katie Boulter watches the action between Alex de Minaur and Jack Draper on Court One last night
Pictured, Boulter and her Aussie star boyfriend Alex de Minaur at an event at Wimbledon in May
On International Women’s Day 2021, De Minaur made it official with a gushing Instagram post, alongside a photo of the pair
Boulter got emotional as she dedicated her stunning Centre Court victory yesterday to her late grandmother
The new golden girl of British tennis! How coach’s daughter Katie Boulter, 25, has gone from career-threatening injury to making it to the third round at Wimbledon – and has found love with fellow player Alex de Minaur
She was dubbed ‘Britain’s new rising tennis star’ last year when at Wimbledon , and Katie Boulter appears set to put on an equally impressive display this summer.
The world number 118, from Leicester, who suffered a back injury in 2019, beat Frenchwoman Clara Burel with ease in her first match of the tournament in a comfortable 7-5 6-3 win.
She has now also reached the third round at the All England Club for the first time this afternoon after winning against World No 6 Karolina Pliskova in a tough second round clash.
Tall and with easy power, Boulter, 25, who spent part of the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic volunteering for Age UK, often shares glamorous snaps on her Instagram of her adventures training and competing around the world.
Meanwhile, the stunning blonde, whose mother Sue is a former Tennis coach, confirmed in 2021 that she is dating top-ranked Australian tennis star Alex de Minaur, who has a career-high singles ranking of No. 15.
Boulter, who grew up in the upmarket Leicestershire village of Woodhouse Eaves, started playing tennis aged four, and went on to represent Great Britain three years later in a junior competition.
She has previously said that when she was younger, beating her older brother in practice games was her motivation.
In 2011, aged just 14, she reached the final of the Orange Bowl in America, one of the most prestigious junior Tennis tournaments.
Before her tennis career, she played the piano and also has a keen interest in fashion, having even made an appearance in Vogue magazine in 2018.
She is also an avid fan of Leicester City Football Club, sharing snaps online of her attending games with her grandfather Brian Gartshore, who is in his 80s and invented anti-theft tags to prevent the shoplifting of clothes and other items.
Boulter reached the world ranking of 82 before she was struck down with injury in April 2019 when she was part of Great Britain’s Federation Cup team.
Following the team’s victory over Kazakhstan she suffered a spinal stress fracture, side-lining her for the rest of the year.
Her rehabilitation was compounded by her battle with chronic fatigue, which she was diagnosed with as a teenager.
However this year she is back at Wimbledon, where her beau Alex is also competing. ‘There’s no place like home. Grateful for the opportunity,’ Katie said of her return to SW19.
‘I actually had a phone call from my grandpa the night before I played,’ said the 25-year-old, who is through to the third round of a grand slam for the first time.
‘He didn’t mention anything, but he kind of gave me the inkling that it might be coming. I didn’t know anything until after my first match where my mum basically pulled me aside and told me after the first match.
‘It’s been a tough few days for sure. I’ve tried to kind of get my emotions out and deal with the situation, try and keep my head on the tennis. I was lucky because my grandpa managed to come down from Leicester, so we could keep him company and keep supporting him at the same time.’
Boulter’s family lived the match with her from the player box, and she said of her grandmother: ‘Her favourite tournament was Wimbledon. That’s why it’s a special one for me. She’d watch every single match that was on the TV.
‘She’s always someone who’s been right into tennis from stage one. She lives just down the road from the tennis club. That’s the tennis club that I started playing tennis at.
‘Leicestershire is very close to my heart. I’ve spent a lot of time on the courts there with my grandparents and my family. It’s a lot of memories. Ones I cherish.’
At 5ft 11in and with easy power, Boulter has risen as high as 82 in the world and looks to have the most potential of the younger generation of Brits.
The player, who spent part of lockdown volunteering for Age UK, often shares glamorous snaps on her Instagram of her adventures training and competing around the world.
Boulter reached the world ranking of 82 before she was struck down with injury in April 2019 when she was part of Great Britain’s Federation Cup team. Following the team’s victory over Kazakhstan she suffered a spinal stress fracture, side lining her for the rest of the year. Her rehabilitation was compounded by her battle with chronic fatigue, which she was diagnosed with as a teenager.
But in an interview last year she said she feels like ‘I’ve officially conquered it’ and revealed how she is ‘as strong as I have ever been physically’.
Boulter used her time during 2020’s UK lockdown to complete work with Age UK, a charity for the elderly, where ‘there was one elderly lady I called every week so I could check that she’s OK and see if she needs anything doing’.
The home crowd roared in support of the rising star, off the back of the double disappointment of Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray crashing out of SW19 early.
She said: ‘I’ve got absolutely no words right now. The crowd was unbelievable, thank you so much for getting me through that. I’m going to get emotional. My gran passed away two days ago so I’d just like to dedicate that to her today.
‘Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me. I’ve hopefully got many more matches to play and if I’ve got you guys behind me for those, hopefully I can go a long way, so thank you very much.’
Wimbledon fans broke down in tears and roared in support for Boulter as she won her second-round singles game, and revealed that her victory has sparked more excitement for team GB in the tournament.
Samia Gomez, 40, a sports therapist based in Isleworth, south-west London, said she cried when the tennis star spoke about her grandmother.
Speaking alongside her husband, Paul Morrison, 42, she said: ‘I cried at the end when she said her grandmother died just two days ago. I’m rooting for Iga Swiatek and (Rafael) Nadal, but I think we need to support all the British players.
‘We are in the UK, this is a British grand slam, and Katie Boulter shows we’re here to see really true champions.’
Mr Robinson, who coordinates catering for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), said Boulter ‘did an incredible job’, adding: ‘We’re looking forward to watching Ryan Peniston and Alistair Gray even more now.’
Ruth Stevens, 50, said that as someone who does not usually follow tennis, hearing Boulter open up about her family tragedy piqued her interest in the star.
Katie Boulter during a press conference yesterday after her second-round victory over Karolina Pliskova
Boulter celebrating after beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic on Centre Court yesterday
Boulter raises her arms and smiles as the crowd at Centre Court roars after her second-round victory yesterday
Boulter’s emotional relatives including her mother Sue Boulter, centre, as Boulter dedicates the victory to her grandmother
Back on court: Boulter reached the world ranking of 82 before she was struck down with injury in April 2019 when she was part of Great Britain’s Federation Cup team. Pictured, Katie in a training snap shared on Instagram
Strike a pose! Katie, who has recovered from injury, shares snaps of her jet-set life on Instagram
Ms Stevens, a special needs case officer living in Crystal Palace, south-east London, watched the game on Centre Court alongside her school friend and tennis fan Jennifer Morrison, 50, an artist based in Fulham.
She said: ‘I’m a tennis novice but it was really exciting. I got more involved when she told her story afterwards.’
When asked if hearing Boulter’s story made her more interested in the game, Ms Stevens said: ‘Absolutely, hearing her backstory definitely got me interested. I’ll be watching out for her now.’
Ms Morrison, who was wearing the Wimbledon colours of purple and green, said ‘there was a big roar’ from the crowd when Boulter won.
‘It was really incredible, I wasn’t expecting her to do so well,’ she said.
She was dubbed ‘Britain’s new rising tennis star’ last year when at Wimbledon, and Katie Boulter (pictured) appears set to put on an equally impressive display this summer
A hug for Emma! Katie greets Emma Raducanu ahead of a training match at Wimbledon
‘Her grandmother died a couple of days ago. The emotion was quite clear, and the crowd was very much behind her, it was very exciting when she won. We stood up and there was a big roar. Everyone was very much behind her.
‘I think it’s great to see these players who are not really as well known coming forward, and great for the women as well, it’s wonderful.’
Josh Moses, 33, a golf manager from Guildford in Surrey, witnessed the win from the side-lines with his girlfriend Stephanie Bridges, 33, and said they felt Boulter’s passionate feeling.
He said: ‘We got very emotional and very stuck into the game, and we felt her emotion as well, so it was really special.
‘You could see that every point that she won, it motivated her even more, you could see what it meant to her and the crowd got more and more behind her as well.’
Ms Bridges added: ‘It was really special to see a Brit win at home – really good. She’s one to watch.’