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Heather Watson

DOUBLES CHAMP MAINTAINS SINGULAR FOCUS

  • Location: National Tennis Centre, London

It’s one thing knowing you’ve got the talent to succeed – proving it is another matter entirely. For Heather Watson, that’s why last year’s mixed doubles triumph at SW19 was so important. “It gives me confidence,” she says, weighing up her chances at this year’s tournament. Her winning partnership with Henri Kontinen will be resumed come July, and if they can perform anywhere near the level of 12 months ago, there’s every possibility of another final appearance, and perhaps, even another trophy.

Watson’s chief focus, however, is the singles competition. She’s still most definitely a singles player – indeed, the third-round match against Serena in 2015 sits alongside the doubles title of last year as her favourite Wimbledon memory – and after the disappointment of missing the French Open, she’s eager to make up for lost time. “My aim at Wimbledon this year is to win every match I get to play,” she declares confidently. To that end, there’s a new coaching setup in place, ending a period of uncertainty where Watson found herself heading into tournaments with no guiding hand to speak of. “It’s difficult to prepare for a major tournament without a coach. At such big events, where you want every edge you can have – it’s tough.” Former British No.1 Colin Beecher has stepped into the breach, along with Morgan Phillips, coach of fellow Brit James Ward.

My aim this year is to win every match I play.

Heather Watson - British No.2

The change of surroundings has already borne a few fitness-focused fruits, albeit with a bruise or two along the way. “I’ve tried yoga – it’s very hard! Tennis takes all of the flexibility out of me. But I do a lot of stretching anyway as part of my routine, and I feel good at the moment.” Her training, likewise, has stepped up in intensity over the last few weeks, ready for the grass of Wimbledon. “You have to be more explosive – quick, sharp movements – so I’ve really been working on that.”

It’s all change on the coaching front for Watson then, since we last spoke late last year, but she retains the single-minded determination that has defined her career. “Tennis, tennis, tennis” is all that’s been occupying her time in the intervening months, as she’s fought through a busy schedule in the Americas and returned to Europe to assist Team GB in the Fed Cup.

Now it’s crunch time: the green, green grass of Wimbledon awaits, and Watson is visibly excited at the prospect. She’ll get the full support of the British crowd, and, if she has her wish, one David Walliams will be adding his voice to the cheers of appreciation. Anyone in the world, and Watson plumps for Walliams – perhaps she wants to prove, once and for all, that Britain really has got talent.

Heather Watson always looks the part in Wimbledon whites, and this year will be no different as she takes to the court in full New Balance apparel and footwear. The English Rose Dress evokes all the charm of SW19 with its high neckline and pleated skirt, while the 996 v3 offers lightweight comfort with a knit, nylon infused upper that’s heat-fused for strength and durability.

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