It might sound like something Basil Fawlty would have suggested, but here is a tip for anyone who bumps into Heather Watson around 11am on Friday: whatever you do, don’t mention the draw.
The draw for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, should be finished by mid-morning, but the British No 1 will want to discover her fate in her own way. “I never once have known when the draw’s being done for any tournament in the whole year,” Watson said. “I usually just decide when I want to find out. I’ll stay away from my phone so I can just find out when I want to find out. But I have to find out myself. That’s one of my things. I don’t have many, but that’s one of them. It’s a superstition. I have to see it myself.”
Is there anyone she would rather not meet in the first round? “I think probably Serena [Williams] is the only person I wouldn’t really want to face. I think most players would say that, but then again it would be a huge opportunity for me, I’ve never played her before and if you’re going to beat somebody, she’s the best person you could beat.”
It has been an up-and-down season for Watson, but this is her favourite part of the year. Being based in Florida, the 23-year-old from Guernsey relishes the chance to spend some time in her home country. “Wimbledon is such a special tournament,” she said. “I feel at home when I play there and the grass is perfect. It’s the tournament I want to do best in.”
She can still recall watching Venus Williams play on her first visit to Wimbledon as a child. “I remember saying, ‘I’m going to play here one day’. Everybody was like, ‘Yeah, OK Heather’. To be playing there now I’m just so pleased.”
Although Watson won the second title of her career in Hobart in the first month of the season and had a decent run at Indian Wells, those were the only two tournaments this year where she had won more than one match until she arrived in Eastbourne for this week’s Aegon International.
An elbow injury hampered the world No 64 during the clay-court season and delayed her first appearance on grass this year. However, she has been feeling good this week and beat two higher-ranked players, Varvara Lepchenko (world No 38) and Elina Svitolina (world No 17), before losing to Sloane Stephens.
Watson also enjoyed the success of her fellow Briton, Jo Konta. “Jo’s playing great tennis,” she said. “I feel that on the WTA tour in general, everybody believes they can win now. That’s why there are so many upsets in all the Grand Slams more often than not. Every draw’s a tough draw now. Go back 10 years and you could pick out the people who are going to get into the quarter-finals or semi-finals, but there’s always a surprise there now.”
Does she feel more pressure competing at her home Grand Slam tournament? “I see it not as pressure but more as motivation to win. Not just for me, not just for my family, but for all the people that have come out watching me, supporting me and really want me to win. I love playing in front of a home crowd, but even a crowd that’s against me, I don’t mind as long as there’s a crowd.”
The world No 3, Simona Halep, who partnered Watson in the doubles at Edgbaston, said last week that the Briton has the potential to make the world’s top 20. Watson was grateful for the compliment. “I definitely think I can get there,” she said. “I think I’m kind of a late bloomer.”Reuse content