Heather Watson – slammed it!
The tennis player from Guernsey who hit her first back-hand at just five years old has won her first World Tennis Association singles title. On Sunday in Osaka, Heather Watson beat Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei 7 -5, 5 – 7, 7 – 6, holding her nerve in a tense tie-break in the final set. The win in Japan makes Watson the first British woman to win a WTA singles tournament in 24 years.
It is fair to say October’s success cements a break-through 2012 for Watson. After qualifying for Roland Garros and reaching the second round, she became the first British woman to compete in the third round of Wimbledon for a decade. Squeezing in a doubles win at the Stanford Classic, Watson represented the UK in the Olympics, going on to win her second doubles tournament at the Texas Open. This year is the first Watson has played in all four Grand Slams, and marks her first WTA tournament win, which, after the weekend, now stands at a total three titles.
The tennis star has had form on the court since she played as a junior, winning the US Open and the gold medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. And since turning professional in 2009, Watson has steadily ascended to become a popular face on the tennis circuit. Her success in Japan repositions her back to being the top female British player.
The twenty year old took three hours 11 minutes to win the final, rounding off a week of sheer endurance with over fifteen hours on court. In the final match, she also saved an incredible four match points against her opponent. Watson’s reward, along with the silver trophy and £23,200 prize money, is a jump in world rankings from number 71 to the top 50, her highest placing ever. She began the year just inside the top 100.
While some pockets of the media make use of the change in rankings to drum up stories about rivalry between Watson and Laura Robson, the world number 52 and junior Wimbledon champion, OBV takes this opportunity to celebrate Watson’s achievement and looks forward to watching her career develop.
Philippa de Lacy