Katie Boulter’s Wimbledon challenge might have come to an end but that will not stop her from inspiring the next generation of British tennis players.
Boulter, who is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme – the highest level of support for players aged 16-24, saw her run at SW19 ended in the third round with a 6-1 6-1 defeat to France’s Harmony Tan – who had beaten Serena Williams in the first round here.
But after hearing that participation figures in female recreational tennis have shot up in the past year, in part thanks to the efforts of the likes of Boulter and US Open champion Emma Raducanu, the 25-year-old could not hide her delight.
She said: “I think that’s absolutely incredible. I love to hear stuff like that because it’s one of the main reasons I play tennis. I hope that there are so many people that can get inspired, see someone out there with a story, playing in front of a lot of people, going, ‘You know what, I want to be that person’.
“To see that happening over Great Britain, it really does inspire even the players, even me, it inspires me to keep going. It really is great to see that and I hope we can continue that momentum.”
The signs had been there from the first point that something was not quite right in the loss to Tan, Boulter admitting as much after the match.
A stunning Centre Court victory over 2021 runner-up Karolina Pliskova had ramped up the excitement around Boulter, who has had to overcome so much to get to this point, both in terms of illness and injury, as well as the difficulty of losing her grandmother this week.
She never found her rhythm against Tan, whose constant change of pace makes her a very tricky opponent, with Boulter admitting that the efforts over the grass-court season had taken their toll.
She added: “I think I may have seen it coming a little bit.
“I started to reach my emotional and physical point where I was struggling a little bit this morning in the warm-up.
“But it’s a step forward in the right direction. I’ve got nothing but positive vibes coming into this week and moving forward for the next few tournaments.
“I think I’m just a little bit emotionally drained, if I’m honest. It’s been a long few weeks. I’m not going to even talk about this week. I think this week was the cherry on top.
“But I’ve been working so hard for a long period of time, getting through an injury to start with is a huge, huge struggle, and I made it through, and I’m here and played some amazing tennis week in, week out. This week has probably been the tipping point. I’ve played some great matches. It’s also been very emotional. I think today was one step too far for me.”
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