Wimbledon 2022: That was for you, gran, as Katie Boulter channels Raducanu and Leicester City to boost Brit spirits

There were cheers and tears for Katie Boulter when a thrilling performance lifted Centre Court after the departures of Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu and kept British hopes alive.

Katie Boulter celebrates a point against Karolina Pliskova during her second-round victory at Wimbledon. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Katie Boulter celebrates a point against Karolina Pliskova during her second-round victory at Wimbledon. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Thrilling and brave, because there was barely a dry eye in the house when the 25-year-old revealed right after beating Karolina Pliskova that her grandmother had died just two days before.

Dedicating the 3-6, 7-6, 7-4 victory to her gran, Boulter said: “It’s been tough, all the emotions and trying to keep my head on the tennis. I had a phonecall from my grandpa before my opening match. He didn’t let on but I had an inkling. I didn’t know until afterwards when my mum pulled me aside.

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“She loved Wimbledon and that's why it's so special for me. She watched every single match on the TV. She was right into tennis, living just down the road [in Leicestershire] from the club where I started playing. I spent a lot of time on those courts with her and the family. There’s a lot of memories, ones I will cherish.”

Knowing nothing of Boulter’s heartache, the stands were charmed by her bouncy presence, blonde ponytail flapping, as she got off to a fast start against last year’s beaten finalist, securing an early break of serve with some thumping drives. But the Czech former world No1 fought back to claim the first set.

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The second set began in the same fashion, the willowy Boulter stretching for another advantage. Again Pliskova came back at her and it seemed as if Centre would be witnessing yet another British demise, to be filed with the rest marked “plucky”. But Boulter wasn’t having any of that.

“It was a very, very tough match - from many aspects,” she said. “I’m super proud of managing to control my emotions, play a good match and come through against an opponent like her.”

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This was Boulter’s career-best performance having been highly-tipped as a youngster only to have her progress derailed by injuries. Reflecting on them, and also the passing of her grandmother, she said: “Every time something happens in your life you get a little reality check. I’m lucky to have such great support around me, my family, my team, a great boyfriend [Australia’s Alex de Minaur]. My grandpa was able to come down [to the match] so we could keep supporting him. Without that network I’m not sure where I would be.”

Boulter will next play France’s Harmony Tan, conqueror of Serena Williams. “I expect nothing less than her to go out there and enjoy herself.” But Boulter will be endeavouring to do the same.

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Cautious about the prospect of going all the way like Raducanu at the US Open she will nevertheless try to take inspiration from her fellow Brit. “Hundred percent anything is possible. “When Emma did was astonishing. She went out there, played fearless tennis, surprised everyone.”

And Boutler will also be channeling Leicester City, shock winners of England’s Premier League in 2016. “I hope I can take a leaf out of their book,” she smiled. “I've had a lot of support from the Foxes. They were something else that year. Maybe I can create that this year.”

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