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Wimbledon 2018: Who is Naomi Broady? The British No. 4 in long-running family dispute with the LTA

Because of a long-running family dispute with the Lawn Tennis Association, Broady has never represented Britain in the Fed Cup or the Olympics

Paul Newman
Tuesday 03 July 2018 12:45 BST
Wimbledon day one: Roger Federer and Serena Williams victorious

The draw has not been kind to a number of British players here at Wimbledon, but at least it gives a chance for Naomi Broady to remind home supporters that she is still the British No 4. The consolation for drawing Garbine Muguruza, the defending champion, is that the 28-year-old will play in the opening match on Centre Court on Tuesday.

Because of a long-running family dispute with the Lawn Tennis Association, Broady has never represented Britain in the Fed Cup or the Olympics. The world No 138 also suspects that might be the reason why she did not receive wild cards into any of the LTA’s grass-court tournaments last month.

Wimbledon wild cards, nevertheless, are issued by the All England Club and Broady is once again grateful for their support. Even first-round losers here earn £39,000, which for a player of Broady’s world ranking can be crucial.

“I am extremely lucky that the All England Club supports me and believes in my tennis,” Broady said. “I owe so much of my career to them. Without the wild cards I have had, I would definitely have stopped playing tennis by now and not been able to afford it.

“My best ranking came from being able to invest in my tennis a few years ago after getting a wild card here. I was able to invest and pay for a coach to travel with me.

“It’s difficult when the top players earn more money, as they should do because they are ranked higher, and are able to invest in their team more. They are able to invest in a coach, a fitness coach sometimes, a doctor, a physio. The more input you have in the game, the more you will improve again and the gap almost gets wider.”

Broady, whose biggest asset is a powerful serve, has had to fend for herself ever since a family fall-out with the LTA 11 years ago, when the governing body objected to photographs posted on a social networking website.

The LTA suspended Broady’s funding, upon which her father, Simon, withdrew her younger brother Liam (who was also given a wild card here) from the governing body’s coaching programme and then sold the family home to fund his children’s tennis careers.

While Liam eventually opted for reconciliation with the LTA, to the fury of his father, Naomi has always remained on the outside. One of the consequences is that she refuses to play in the Fed Cup – despite regular overtures from Anne Keothavong, Britain’s captain, and Judy Murray, her predecessor – which in turn means she is unavailable for selection for the Olympics.

“If it were as simple as representing my country, I would love to play for Great Britain in the Olympics,” Broady said. “As long as it is so intertwined with the LTA, it’s not going to happen. It’s a shame it is so intertwined and it’s a shame they made the ruling that you can't play the Olympics if you can't play Fed Cup as well. As long as it’s like that, I don't think much is going to change.”

She added: “Rightly or wrongly, I have not received any wild cards across the grass this year. Maybe that is their way of showing if I don't play Fed Cup I am not going to receive anything from them.

Naomi Broady has gone into debt in the past to fund her tennis (Getty)

“So much has gone on that so many people don't know about. I’m not going to sit here and points fingers and say: ‘They did this and they did that.’ There is a lot more to the story that everyone knows.”

Broady has gone into debt in the past to fund her tennis and can even recall being unable to fly home from tournaments because she could not afford the air fare. She estimates that she has just about broken even this year, but that is only because she has played without any coaching support.

“As soon as you take a coach with you, you are paying for two flights, two hotels,” she said. “When you see the prize money that you get at most of the ITF tournaments, I don't know how people are expected to fund themselves just through prize money.

“When I was younger, I did a lot of other options. I played money tournaments, I played club leagues, I played World Team Tennis, which I absolutely enjoy and it is also a way for me to earn some money. I try and keep the balance right. I miss tournaments to play WTT, but I hope I can invest more in my tennis in terms of getting a coach and maybe a fitness trainer and a physio sometimes.”

She added: “The money from Wimbledon takes off some pressure, being able to go and play. It is one less thing to worry about, but also it really enables us to invest in ourselves.”

Broady said her immediate goal was to get back into the world’s top 100. “I’m just trying to keep persisting and trying to stay strong mentally and not lose faith in my game and the journey I am on,” she said.

“I am also trying to find a coach to work with. I’m working this week with Jack Carpenter, who used to be a player himself. We got him in for the past week to use him as a sparring partner just to play a lot of balls. I’ve spent a lot of hours on court in the past week.”

As for taking on Muguruza, Broady said she had nothing to lose. “I’ve had quite a few people coming up to me to say if you’re going to get her you want her in the first round. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere and I’m excited to play on Centre Court. I don’t think I’ve been on there before. It’s definitely one of the most special matches.

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