Katie Boulter dedicated a magnificent and highly emotional Centre Court win to the memory of her late grandmother Jill after beating No6 seed Karolina Pliskova for the second time in a week – on both occasions recovering from a set down against last year’s Wimbledon finalist.
The world No118 from Leicester has fully justified her wildcard this year by reaching the third round for the first time – where she will next play France’s Harmony Tan, the first-round conqueror of Serena Williams who claimed another excellent win over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo on Thursday.
But before thinking about that Boulter was thinking only about keeping her emotions in check having discovered just after winning in the first round two days earlier that her beloved gran, a devoted supporter of her career and to whom she was very close, had passed away.
Her grandfather Brian had come down from Leicester to be with the rest of the family as Boulter ensured lightning struck twice against Pliskova. She had beaten the same player, on that occasion a first ever win over a top-10 player, at the WTA warm-up event in Eastbourne.
Boulter kept her composure superbly as she served out a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory and the Centre Court crowd rose to acclaim her achievement, perhaps even more keen to celebrate some British success after seeing two slam winners exit on Wednesday in Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu. Who knows, maybe she can even emulate her city’s football team and their famous 5,000-1 Premier League triumph.
After briefly mentioning in her post-match on-court interview that she wanted to “dedicate this to my gran, who died two days ago”, Boulter later expanded on just what a part her gran had played in her tennis life from a young age.
Boulter, who has seen injuries hamper her career every time she looked poised to push on deep into the top 100, said: “It was a very, very tough match for me from many aspects. I am super proud of myself for getting through against a player like that. I managed to control my emotions very well and played a really good match. Ultimately it came down to the wire, and I think I stayed really strong in the tough moments, and that's why I got the win today.
“I was lucky because my grandpa managed to come down from Leicester, and so we could keep him company and keep supporting him at the same time. Her favourite tournament was Wimbledon. That's why it's a special one for me. She'd watch every single match that was on the TV.
“I actually had a phone call from my grandpa the night before I played the first round. He didn't mention anything, but he kind of gave me the inkling that it might be coming. I didn't know anything until after my first match where my mum basically pulled me aside and told me after the first match.
“She's always someone who's been right into tennis from stage one. She lives just down the road from the tennis club. That's the tennis club that I started playing tennis at. Yeah, Leicestershire is very close to my heart. I've spent a lot of time on the courts there with my grandparents and my family. It's a lot of memories, ones I cherish.
“I think it really helped for me having beaten Karolina so recently. It's easy to say I believe I can win this match. But to have actually gone out and done it a week before, it does make the difference. And like last week, when she took the first set, I just needed to stay with her and stay on serve especially in the second set. I did that again in Eastbourne. I managed to get a chance, and I feel like I got that chance again today.
“After all the injury difficulties it feels ike maybe this has been coming. It just shows how much work I've put in. I never, ever expect to have things change overnight. I don't think that's something that ever happens. It does sometimes in miracles. You look at Emma Raducanu, she's put a lot of work in. Right early in her career she's been able to come out there and swing freely.
“I think it's a little bit different for me where I have had to kind of build momentum and build some strength physically. It's a huge part of my game. I finally have been able to put that work in. It's started to pay off. I've got a lot more work to do, and hopefully, yeah, I can keep doing that.”
And admitting that the match with world No115 Tan represented a great opportunity for both, she added: “I actually watched her match against Serena, she makes it very difficult. There's a reason she's beaten some really good players this week. I expect nothing less than her to go out there and enjoy herself when I play her. It's going to be a tough battle. But ultimately I'm just going to go out and enjoy myself and play some good tennis.”