Watson learns she ‘can beat Serena’

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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Heather Watson grew up with Serena Williams’ picture on her bedroom wall: now she has the ammunition to beat “the best player in the world”.

Watson was just an awe-struck teen when Williams dropped into Nick Bolletieri’s Florida tennis academy 11 years ago but on Wimbledon’s Centre Court on Friday night the two were all but equals.

The Guernsey native pushed top seed, world number one and 20-time grand slam champion Williams all the way in the third round at SW19, admitting later she will forever rue spurning two match points.

Williams triumphed 6-2 4-6 7-5 to set up a last-16 clash with elder sister Venus and keep her calendar grand slam bid on track – but Watson vowed to get the better of the 33-year-old next time they meet.

“I know I can beat her and that’s what I’ve learned about myself,” said Watson.

“Even now I wish I could go back and play one point differently, to maybe try to change things.

“At deuce when I was serving for (the match), I would have smacked that backhand super-hard if I could go back, rather than just making it.”

Former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray took to social media to acclaim Watson’s heroic defeat, while Williams herself admitted her opponent “should have won the match”.

Two-time grand slam winner Murray posted on social media: “Retweet if @HeatherWatson92 just made you feel really effing proud! Favourite if she made you feel really effing proud!” Thousands responded as instructed.

Watson’s loss passed the baton to 2013 winner Murray and British number four James Ward at SW19.

While Murray was lined up to face Andreas Seppi on Saturday, Ward was meeting Vasek Pospisil aiming to improve his best-ever grand slam showing still further.

Guernsey native Watson hoped the British public appreciated her grit and tenacity, and Williams told her to aim “even beyond the top 20” when it comes to the world rankings.

“She’s playing really well: I think she should set her goals higher because she can definitely do better,” said Williams.

Younger Williams sibling Serena’s victory sealed a last-16 meeting with Venus, 17 years on from their first professional battle.

Serena is still chasing the calendar grand slam, but believes Wimbledon’s aficionados will throw their support behind her 35-year-old sister in Monday’s showdown – in part due to her battle with auto-immune illness Sjogren’s Syndrome.

“I expect more people to be rooting for Venus,” said Serena. “I would be rooting for Venus. She’s been through so much. She’s had a wonderful story.

“She’s been so inspiring to me; she’s just an incredible individual.

“She’s just so amazing. She’s been so inspiring to a lot of people with the same things that she goes through, too.”

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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