Katie Boulter has insisted she is prepared to grind it out on low-profile events to reach the top – inspired by Jo Konta. As a wild card she came close to causing an upset on her Wimbledon debut before succumbing 3-6 7-5 6-3 to American Christina McHale, ranked 60 compared to the Brit’s 238.
I definitely felt like I could win the match, and I was in with a chance. From the very first ball I felt comfortable out there. Katie Boulter
The 20-year-old Leicester City fan was left kicking herself at what she considered a missed opportunity, but her performance provide a confidence boost to her ambitions after a year of illness and injury.
She said: “Am I ready keep grinding it out in front of small crowds and more obscure places than this? Most definitely.
“My motivation is even higher after the match I played against Christina, for sure. I know my skills are compatible with these players. You know. She’s very high in the rankings and it’s where I want to be next year. It’s where I want to be for the rest of my career. So knowing that I can compete here and be comfortable in this environment really drives me.
“Jo’s been a huge inspiration. I have known her a few years now. I have seen her progress, especially her mental strength. I have so much respect for her on and off the court for those reasons.
“I’m so thankful for Wimbledon to giving me the opportunity to put my skills against someone who is ranked so much higher than me. And that too will push me into the next bracket of where I’m trying to reach.”
Boulter, helped by reading notes reminding herself to believe at the changeovers, stunned her opponent by taking the opening set and battled from 4-1 down in the second to 5-5 before breaking McHale at the start of the third.
She said: “I’m completely devastated this one moment. I’m sure in the next couple of days I will reflect on it a little bit more. Of course I’m proud to represent my country and to give my all. That’s where I’m at right now. I definitely felt like I could win the match, and I was in with a chance. From the very first ball I felt comfortable out there.
“Nerves were a factor in the end, most definitely. I mean, it’s my Wimbledon debut. It is something that I have dreamed of since I was a little girl. I have always wanted to play here. I think it would be inhuman not to be.”