She’s the 20-year-old rookie that we just wanted to hug last year, when she broke down on the court after suffering an injury and losing her first round. But this year, Heather Watson is taking Wimbledon by storm. On Monday she became the first woman to win on her Centre Court debut since 1985, and last night she became the first woman to reach the third round for a decade. Hurrah!
Heather has now shot to the top of her game, ranking third in Britain after beating Iveta Benesova – who is, incidentally, 48 places ahead of her in the world rankings (phew!) – on Monday, and American Jamie Hampton on Wednesday; the first British woman to achieve this since Elena Baltacha in 2002.
And the reason for her success? She says eating eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast for a week. Hmm. She was also educated at the prestigious £25,000 per year Nick Bollettieri school of tennis in the US from the age of 12, where she followed in the footsteps of greats including Maria Sharapova and Andre Agassi. But y’know, could be the eggs and that.
It’s also hard not to like Heather when you hear that, aged nine, she asked her Dad, Ian, for £10 – before using it to enter a tennis tournament. ‘Five days later I walked into the house with a trophy,’ she says. ‘My parents asked me where I had got it. I told them that I had entered a softball tennis event and won. They were understandably surprised because they had no idea what I had done.’ Uh-maz-ing.
Heather's been relatively low on the radar until this tournament – especially since her unfortunate injury last year, which saw her crying on the court – but now the odds are well in her favour, and her cheeky charm has completely won us over. Especially when she says things like this: ‘That’s why I play tennis – for those moments. [The fans] are great. So much fun. I’d love to just keep winning for them.’
Please do, Heather – we’re rooting for you!