Katie Boulter pleased to reap rewards of hard work with gutsy first-round win
The hard work paid off for Katie Boulter as she marked her return to Wimbledon by becoming the first British winner of the 2021 tournament.
The 24-year-old missed the Championships in 2019 with the back problem that plunged her out of the top 100 after a breakthrough season the previous year.
Boulter is ranked down at 219 but she is undoubtedly a better player than that and has shown on many occasions that big stages bring the best out of her.
— LTA (@the_LTA) June 28, 2021
She had a kind draw against American qualifier Danielle Lao, making her Wimbledon debut at the age of 30, but had to battle from a set down to win 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-4.
Boulter said: “I worked so hard behind the scenes, which most of you don’t see. So hard every single day. I’ve been through some really tough moments. I found a way through them because I’ve had some amazing people around me.
“Obviously, having been absent for a couple years, it really means so much. Ultimately it wasn’t pretty out there. I knew it wasn’t going to be. But I fought so hard, found a way. I feel like that’s what tennis is really about.”
It was attack against defence as Boulter, who had her right elbow strapped, unleashed her powerful groundstrokes.
But Lao did a good job keeping the ball in play and, although Boulter fought back from 2-5 and then 4-6 in the tie-break, it was the American who clinched the opening set.
Boulter finally made the breakthrough she was looking for midway through the second set but then trailed 3-1 in the third before winning five of the last six games.
“I think the first set was pretty tough,” said Boulter. “But I was also quite nervous. Before the match I didn’t really have those feelings. As I stepped on to the court, I felt the crowd again, it kind of came back to me a little bit.
“I thought I did a good job to get back into it, having been 5-2 down. I’m a little bit disappointed I didn’t get the first set, considering the momentum that I had.
This one meant a lot. Round ✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/LyLcGcWWzz
— Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter) June 28, 2021
“I’m a fighter. I’m not going to go anywhere. I felt like I loosened up a little bit in the second set and played some good tennis.
“It definitely feels pretty special to be back home. It really does make a difference for sure. I saw some GB flags out there, which made me smile for sure. To have my family out there, it means everything to me. It really helped me get over the line today.”
The victory earned Boulter a shot at second seed Aryna Sabalenka, to whom she lost a tight match at the Australian Open in 2019.
“I’m super excited to get out there already,” said Boulter. “I know what to expect. I know she’s a power player. It’s going to be really difficult. She’s ranked what she is for a reason.
“Ultimately all I’m going to do is go out there, enjoy myself, put my game on the line, see what I can do. I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. I think it’s going to be a really good match.”
French Open draw is GOAT fodder for Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic faces a daunting roster of potential French Open opponents but could also strengthen his GOAT claims as a result.
French Open: Naomi Osaka handed tough first round assignment
Naomi Osaka takes on seeded oppostion in the French Open first round.
Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic thrown together in French Open draw
Tournament favourites Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are uncomfortably close in the French Open draw.
Carlos Alcaraz makes 23-year-old top ten player feel old
Carlos Alcaraz makes Casper Ruud feel like time is getting away from him.
Casper Ruud a big fan of Ons Jabeur and Simona Halep
Ons Jabeur claimed the Madrid Open title earlier this month.
Exclusive – Annabel Croft on ‘big match player’ Emma Raducanu’s prospects for this summer
Annabel Croft has backed teenager Raducanu to defy some of her doubters this summer.
French Open: Rafael Nadal slips, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz favourite
Rafael Nadal is still considered a strong contender for the French Open crown.
Roger Federer comeback on track as agent reveals Swiss icon is keen to have a crack at Wimbledon 2023
Roger Federer “won’t rush back this time”.
French Open talking points: Ashleigh Barty void, Emma Raducanu’s pain, Hawk-Eye snub
A few talking points ahead of the 2022 French Open.