Wimbledon 2022: Wise Watson has learned her tennis lessons

Heather Watson has ridden sport’s giddying rollercoaster just a little too hard – now she’s taking a more level-headed approach to its relentless ups and downs.

It’s seven years since she pushed Serena Williams the distance in a classic Centre Court duel and 12 months since she squandered match points to lose to Kristie Ahn in the first round.

There have definitely been cheers at this place but a whole lot of tears too.

However, Watson was all smiles as she reached the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in five years with a 7-5, 6-4 over China’s Qiang Wang – returning from a sleepless night to win the one game she needed after Wednesday’s play was abandoned in fading light.

She will now play Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, who beat her at last year’s US Open, for a place in the fourth round – a stage she’s never reached in 42 previous Grand Slam appearances.

“I’m just feeling pretty relaxed,” said Watson, 30.

“I’ve been here before so I’m just taking it step by step, match by match. As I’ve got older and been on the tour for years I’ve found my highs aren’t as high and my lows aren’t as low.

“I’m just more level headed than I used to be. When I was first on tour making the third round would have put me on top of the world, it’s not like that now.

“What means everything is my family have me through those ups and down, they are there for me no matter what.”

Watson knows that on her day she has the game to beat big name opponents but it’s ten years since she ended a near quarter of a century wait for a British woman to win a WTA title.

Serena said she should have won their All England Club thriller in 2015, but there’s been a bit too much shoulda, woulda, coulda about Watson’s career.

“I respect every single person in the draw,” she added.

“Everyone can play tennis. You see upsets, especially in the women’s game, just constantly now because the strength and depth is so big.

“I do see it as an opportunity. I think when people look at the draw and see me at Wimbledon on grass, it’s not an easy draw for them and with each match my confidence grows.

“My mental preparation is a completely different ball game now. The last few years, let’s not talk about that.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website

PHOTO CAPTION: Great Britain’s Heather Watson celebrates after winning her second round match against China’s Wang Qiang (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)

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