Wimbledon wheelchair tennis championships begin as quarter-finalists battle on

British wheelchair players Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Lucy Shuker, Andy Lapthorne and Greg Slade will begin their bids for the title.

Ellie Ng
Wednesday 12 July 2023 00:01 BST
Crowds flocked to the hill to watch the quarter-finals on Tuesday (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Crowds flocked to the hill to watch the quarter-finals on Tuesday (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Wheelchair tennis championships will begin at Wimbledon on the tournament’s 10th day as quarter-final battles continue.

British wheelchair players Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Lucy Shuker, Andy Lapthorne and Greg Slade will start their bids for the title.

Hewett believes he has the “weapons, heart and mentality” to win at SW19 and complete a clean sweep of grand slam singles titles.

The individual championship at the All England Club is the only notable gap on the glittering CV of the 25-year-old, who on Wednesday afternoon begins his campaign against Belgium’s Joachim Gerard.

Hewett feels his grass-court game is in the best shape ever and is confident it is only a matter of time until he lifts the elusive trophy.

Remaining quarter-finalists will battle on Centre Court and Court One to join Elina Svitolina, Novak Djokovic, Marketa Vondrousova and Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals.

Matches could see suspensions again on Wednesday as the Met Office warned of heavy and thundery showers with intermittent sunny spells after an unwelcome visit from rain at SW19 on Tuesday.

The bout of bad weather forced the roofs to close on Centre Court and Court One, temporary halting the showdown between Svitolina and world number one Iga Swiatek before the former won to raucous applause.

The unseeded Ukrainian, who only gave birth to her daughter Skai nine months ago, had to wait almost 30 seconds for unrelenting cheering to die down before starting her on-court interview.

The 28-year-old, when asked how she will spend the next day-and-a-half, told an appreciative audience: “First of all, I’m going to have a beer probably.”

Speaking to reporters after her win, she praised Harry Styles’ “very sweet” message to her on Instagram – telling her she was welcome his concerts after she confessed her tournament run forced her to give away a ticket – and expressed hopes of attending a gig of his “one day”.

Asked what her win meant for her and for Ukraine, she said: “I know that lots of people back in Ukraine watching.

“I got really massive amount of messages from last round. I didn’t really check my phone yet today, but I think there will be a lot of messages, a lot of news.

“I’m happy I can bring little happiness to their life.

“There was many videos also on internet where the kids are watching on their phones. This really makes my heart melt seeing this.”

Belgian four-time Grand Slam singles title winner Kim Clijsters said she felt a “connection” with Svitolina and all mothers who take to the courts as she returned to Wimbledon for invitation doubles on Tuesday morning.

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and former British number one Johanna Konta also expressed excitement at returning to the grass courts of SW19.

Retired Konta, who has a 10-month-old daughter, said tennis has a “blueprint” for female players to succeed in the game after becoming mothers and praised the accommodations made at Wimbledon “especially” – adding that her daughter has been in the creche in the grounds.

More celebrities flocked to south-west London to enjoy the tennis on Tuesday.

Among them was ballet dancer Dame Darcey Bussell, actor Stephen Fry, sports presenter and former athlete Dame Denise Lewis and singer Jess Glynne.

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