Born in Guernsey in 1992, Heather Watson had been on British tennis fans’ radars for a long time before, in 2011, she burst onto the scene and reached the second round of the French Open – the first British woman to do so since 1994. The feat saw Watson break into the top 100 in the world and prompted Maria Sharapova to say “there’s no doubt that she’s a great up-and-coming player”.
Since then, Watson has competed in numerous Grand Slams and two Olympics, won three WTA titles (in 2012, she became the first female Brit to pick up WTA singles silverware since 1988) and came within a hair’s breadth (or, to be more precise, two points) of beating living legend and then World No.1 Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2015. Here are the highlights from that memorable match:
However, the undisputed highlight of her career thus far came in 2016, when she not only picked up her third WTA title but also became mixed doubles Wimbledon champion with Henri Kontinen. In doing so, Watson became the first British woman to pick up a Wimbledon title since 1987. “I can’t really describe how happy I am right now. I can’t stop smiling,” she said immediately afterwards. “We had so much fun from the first point to the last.”
The right-handed Watson has been consistently praised by the sport’s big names for the completeness of her game. She has excellent footwork, is quick off the mark (see below), can unleash a hefty serve and has a consistent double-handed backhand, as well as being confident everywhere on court. Her style has, therefore, drawn comparisons to everyone from the great Martina Hingis to big-server Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.