Watson’s focus on Williams not online threats

Heather Watson in action against Daniela Hantuchova
Heather Watson in action against Daniela Hantuchova
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Heather Watson has branded online trolls “cowards” for levelling death threats against her on Twitter, ahead of a first-ever meeting with Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

Watson blasted social media antagonists, saying “they’ve got no life”, after seeing off Daniel Hantuchova 6-4 6-2 to reach Wimbledon’s third round for the second time.

Watson is determined the internet naysayers will not derail her SW19 challenge, ahead of facing 20-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, who saw off Timea Babos 6-4 6-1 last night.

“I don’t really check for them any more really, it’s become such a usual occurrence that it doesn’t really mean much to me,” said Watson of online threat-makers, after reaching Wimbledon’s third round for the first time since 2012.

“Those people, they’ve got no life. They’re just cowards thinking they can say whatever.

“I still use it (Twitter), I keep posting. I really enjoy posting, it’s usually always positive when I win; it’s just when I don’t win.

“My favourite’s posting pictures. I think some people get sick of me posting pictures.

“But I like it so I’m going to keep doing it.”

The 23-year-old is adamant she will not stop enjoying social media and will simply ignore the negative messages and threats.

The Guernsey native spoke recently on how in her early days such messages would “really hurt my feelings”, but now she is far more bullish about shaking off criticism.

Watson has never faced world No 1 and top Wimbledon seed Williams, and conceded she will relish the chance.

Williams has long since balanced a full-tilt celebrity lifestyle with long-term domination of the women’s game, and was flanked in her entourage at Wimbledon earlier this week by US rapper Drake.

After popping up on stage alongside Taylor Swift at Hyde Park last week, Williams had supermodel Karlie Kloss cheering her to routine victory over Hungary’s Babos.

Even on the day job she still surrounds herself with superstars, and Watson believes the 33-year-old has more than earned that right.

“She’s worked hard for it. She’s done so well in her tennis life she’s allowed to enjoy her life off the court a bit,” said Watson of Williams.

“She is big celebrity status. So yeah, she’s living it up.

“Serena’s a great player, she’s an amazing athlete and a great champion.

“She’s always the one to watch, she’s always the favourite for every tournament she plays.

“So I think she’s the one to beat in tournaments like this. She’s probably the toughest opponent.

“I’ve never played Serena before but she’s obviously a very, very tough opponent.

“But I feel in matches like that, you’ve got a lot to gain, so it’s a real positive as well to play her.”

Watson has banked £77,000 whatever happens next at Wimbledon, admitting as a new home owner that the money will come in handy.

“I’ve just recently got my own place which has been a big goal of mine for a long, long time,” said Watson.

“I’m going to have to start paying bills now, so this will help I guess.”

The last time Watson reached the third round she admitted she effectively froze in her 6-2 6-0 defeat to Agnieszka Radwanska, back in 2012.

Three years on, Watson is determined not to let rankings or status affect her game when she squares up to modern great Williams.

“At the end of the day everybody’s human,” said Watson.

“Everybody’s going to make mistakes, everybody’s going to have good and bad days.

“I remember playing that match against Radwanska and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.

“I remember overplaying totally and thinking she was going to be this amazing player that I’m going to have no chance against.

“I tried to hit winners on the first ball and that was no good.

“This time isn’t my first, second or third Wimbledon. I’ve been here a few times now; I’ve gotten a feel for playing the top players.

“Those experiences really help.”

But the adventure of fellow Brit Liam Broady is over for another year after the Stockport player was outgunned in straight sets by 16th seed David Goffin.

Broady’s 7-6 (7/3) 6-1 6-1 second-round defeat following sister Naomi’s first-round exit. World No 15 Goffin’s superior craft and baseline acumen proved too much for Broady, who was conceding 167 places in the rankings.

“To know that I can compete with these best guys and still have so much to improve on and be reasonably tight with Goffin, it’s immensely uplifting,” said Broady.

Sheffield’s Jonathan Marray – alongside Denmark’s Frederik Nielsen – progressed to the 
second round of the men’s doubles.

The duo beat Frenchman Fabrice Martin and Purav Raja, from India, 6-1 6-4 4-6 7-6 (9-7).