Heather Watson puts on a true Brit show on Centre Court

 

Wimbledon

The green pastures of SW19 are not usually the place to find solace when, every two years, England's footballers tumble out of a tournament and the nation's sporting spotlight turns on tennis. Andy Murray aside – and he is, of course Scottish – Britain's tennis players usually make the footballers look good. Yesterday was different.

The bare facts – three defeats in four completed matches – may look as if the annual cull has begun but all five Brits involved acquitted themselves well against higher-ranked players, and Heather Watson achieved a remarkable triumph.

Watson's 6-2, 6-1 dismissal of the Czech Iveta Benesova, ranked 48 places above her, was impressive enough. What was startling is that it was the first win by a British woman on Centre Court since a Jo Durie victory in 1985.

It was Watson's debut on the show court and she said of the experience: "This is what I've been playing tennis for almost all my life. It was awesome." The Guernsey-born 20-year-old is one of three British women who earned a place in the main draw by dint of their ranking, not a wild card, the highest such representation since 1992.

Watson may yet be joined in the second round by one of the wild cards, the newly naturalised Jo Konta, who on her Grand Slam debut was holding the No 28 seed Christina McHale 7-7 in the third set when play was suspended due to bad light. Konte, a 21-year-old Hungaro-Australian who moved to England seven years ago, delighted a packed outside Court 17 with several impressive drop shots.

The third British woman playing yesterday, Naomi Brody, was less successful but a 6-4, 7-6 defeat was a creditable performance against Lourdes Dominguez Lino, who is ranked 157 above her.

Both British men in action also lost, but not without a fight. There is much interest surrounding Oliver Golding, a strapping 18-year-old from nearby Richmond who won the US Open junior title last year. Facing the Russian Igor Andreev, 93 in the world, Golding delivered a display brimful of potential that delighted a partisan crowd before his inexperience told. He romped the first set 6-1 but then lost the next two on tie-breaks, serving a double-fault on set-point in the third, and lost early in the fourth hour.

The first Brit to go out was Josh Goodall, his fifth first-round defeat in five Wimbledons. The £14,500 first-round loser's cheque offered solace to the British No 4, the world No 215 – he admits that "financially I'm not in the best state, playing Wimbledon helps a lot" – but pride and glory were clearly his motivation.

Heart and a big serve were not enough, however against Grega Zemlja, of Slovenia. The beefy Brit began with confidence, delivering a 125mph ace with his first shot and dropping just two points in his opening four service games. Then Zemlja exerted pressure, Goodall double-faulted, Zemlja broke and took the set. The usual script says Goodall should gently subside but he regained his serve and held his nerve to take the second set 6-3 and push the third into a tie-break before losing in four sets.

Goodall then pondered the direction of a career he feels shows enough possibilities to keep going, but still has his doubts . "If I was getting thrashed I could say, 'Well, I'm not good enough', but I don't feel that's the case. I could probably hang around being 200 in the world for the rest of my career, but is that what I really want?"

At 26, however, time is not on his side as it is for Watson, Konta and Golding.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas