Wimbledon 2019: Receiving racist abuse is now ‘normal’, says Heather Watson after first-round win

After her first round victory over Caty McNally, Watson said that receiving hateful and racist messages online had become a ‘normal’ part of her job

Luke Brown
Wimbledon
Monday 01 July 2019 16:37
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Wimbledon Championships in numbers

British tennis player Heather Watson has said that receiving racist abuse has become “normal”, after an online troll was last week arrested for sending ‘hateful messages’ to various tennis players.

Watson’s mother is from Papa New Guinea and the 27-year-old British number two has spoken previously on how she is often subject to racist slurs when she loses matches.

Last week one commenter was arrested and, after her 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over Caty McNally on the first day of Wimbledon 2019, Watson confessed that receiving hateful messages online had become a “normal” part of her job.

“It's actually sad to say, but it's pretty normal,” she said in her post-match press conference, when asked about her experience dealing with racist and abusive messages online.

“I've had it throughout my whole career, I think. All the players get abuse online, which the WTA are really good and help us with all of that, investigating it all.

“But it's sort of a daily thing. And, as you said, somebody got arrested. Not everyone is going to get arrested, are they?

“I'm glad there's stuff being done, showing that you can't get away with that, because it's just hate. Nobody wants that.”

Watson had earlier revealed that a man was last week arrested after “sending hateful messages to players”.

“I have had to deal with a handful of death threats. The WTA takes them very seriously and works with the police to investigate and catch these people,” she told the Daily Mail.

“Someone was arrested a couple of days ago who had been sending hateful messages to players, but the problem is we get inundated with so many negative comments it's impossible to deal with them all.

“I have had to deal with a handful of death threats. I've been called a monkey and told to go back to the zoo.

“That hurt. It's just so disappointing and sad. It's usually when I lose a match and mostly from men who have gambled on me to win. They pick on my race.

Watson was speaking after her first round victory

“The Women’s Tennis Association takes them very seriously and works with the police to investigate and catch these people.”

Watson is back in action on Wednesday, when she takes on the Estonian 20th seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.

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