Katie Boulter enjoys being centre of attention at Wimbledon

Katie Boulter came away with “no regrets” after threatening a major Wimbledon upset against second seed Aryna Sabalenka on Centre Court.

Katie Boulter in action during her second round ladies' singles match against Aryna Sabalenka on centre court.
Katie Boulter in action during her second round ladies' singles match against Aryna Sabalenka on centre court.

Football fan Boulter, who supports Leicester and trained in an England shirt on Tuesday, had said she hoped the nation’s memorable victory over Germany would spur on Britain’s tennis hopefuls this week.

It certainly seemed to have done the trick for a set and a half for the 24-year-old, who looked on the verge of her biggest career win to date.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Sabalenka came back to disappoint a raucous Centre Court crowd with a 4-6 6-3 6-3 second-round victory.

Not that the deciding set was a stroll for Sabalenka, although Boulter will rue a Hawkeye decision as she was about to walk back to her seat.

Sabalenka’s ball, called out, had in fact shaved the line by the width of a blade of grass.

Sabalenka duly broke - but in an epic seventh game Boulter forced six break points with some glorious shot-making, including an exquisite drop-shot and lob combination.

However, the 23-year-old from Minsk repelled the lot and brave Boulter’s chance had finally gone.

“I think my first and only takeaway is that it’s definitely the best court in the world,” said Boulter.

“I’d not had a chance to play on it yet, that’s my first time. I absolutely loved every minute out there. The crowd were incredible.

“I thought it was a really good match, one I won’t forget.

“I obviously felt like I had quite a few break-points and didn’t manage to take them. I also didn’t feel like I gave them away. She had to win them. She won them. Certainly I’ve got no regrets about that at all.

“Obviously I wanted to serve it out, make her win the match at 5-4. It would have been a fun game.

“But ultimately she played incredibly well today. I’ve got a lot of positives to take from it.”

Sabalenka said: “It was a tough match, she’s an unbelievable player. It was a great atmosphere from the beginning to the end.

“Of course I was nervous today and didn’t feel the court from the beginning but I’m glad I got my rhythm in the second set.

“I have one question guys, will you support me like this in the next round?”

Emma Raducanu was in shock at her journey from the exam hall to Wimbledon after marking her debut at the All England Club with victory over Vitalia Diatchenko.

Like Jack Draper, who also seized his moment to make a name for himself against Novak Djokovic on Monday, Raducanu has long been marked out as a potential star of the future.

And the 18-year-old set about proving why, recovering from 4-1 down in the opening set to defeat qualifier Diatchenko, who is ranked nearly 200 places higher, 7-6 (4) 6-0.

It was about as good a draw as Raducanu could have had but the Kent teenager, whose progress into the senior ranks has been stalled by Covid and the fact she stayed in school, still went into the match as a clear underdog.

Raducanu said: “I had my final A-level examinations in April, so I was actually sitting for an exam two months ago. So now to be here at Wimbledon is unbelievable, it’s surreal.

“I had to actually double check the score at the end of the match. I thought it was a first serve maybe. I’m just really pleased to be into the second round. I feel like I’m playing and everything is just a bonus to me right now. I’m just really enjoying myself, just taking the moment in really.

“The support I had today was quite incredible. They definitely pushed me through some of the tough moments.”

Raducanu, who was born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother before moving to the UK aged two, took A-levels in maths and economics, and she added: “It’s definitely helped keeping my mind active.

“I find it’s actually helped me with my on-court career as well in the way that I can absorb a lot of information. I feel that on court I’m more tactically astute than some others.”

In the second round Raducanu, who is the only British woman left in the singles draw, will take on former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova.

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin’s horrible 2021 continued as she crashed out in the second round, losing 6-2 6-4 to Madison Brengle.

Fifth seed Bianca Andreescu also went out after losing in the first round to Alize Cornet 6-2 6-1.

Third seed Elina Svitolina did prevail with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 win over Alison Van Uytvanck in her delayed first-round match. Seventh seed Iga Swiatek also made it through beating Vera Zvonereva 6-1 6-3, while 2015 champion Garbine Muguruza won 6-1 6-4 against Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

Five-time champion Venus Williams insists her Wimbledon journey is not over after she bowed out in the second round.

The 41-year-old, who first appeared at SW19 in 1997 and won her first title way back in 2000, was beaten 6-0 7-5 by Tunisian Ons Jabeur on Court One.

Asked whether she wants to return in 2022, she said: “Of course. Who wouldn’t want to be at Wimbledon? Lots of people want to be here. Yeah, when it’s my last, I’ll let you know. I’ll give you a little whisper in your ear.”