LONDON, England - At the end of a busy week last week Heather Watson went on court with some of Britain's promising young stars at the Statoil Masters Tennis Heroes Of Tomorrow coaching clinic.
The day after playing her Ladies Night exhibition there, Watson went onto the Royal Albert Hall court once more for the clinic, as part of Statoil's Heroes Of Tomorrow initiative supporting young people in sport, culture and education. The youngsters spent the morning with two of the biggest names in British tennis - Watson and Tim Henman - to develop their skills thanks to financial backing from Statoil.
"The kids are so impressive," Watson said. "With the help of my sponsor Statoil to make this possible it's great for them to have this opportunity, to play on this amazing court, in this amazing arena, and they all look like they are having a lot of fun. I try to be and I would love to be a role model for these kids and for them to have someone they can look up to and who they feel like they can relate to."
"It's about trying to give kids the opportunity - we've got to make the game accessible," Henman said. "It is fantastic that Statoil are investing into the sport and when you see the enthusiasm, the ability and the talent, we've got to make sure they have that chance to shine in the future. It is very important that the kids can have role models. Heather is at the top of the game now, playing the biggest and best tournaments, and it's important for the kids to see there are no secrets. It is about hard work, dedication and commitment and if they can keep going, and keep hitting shots like that, then they can do well."
Watson had a breakthrough year in 2012, highlighted by winning her first WTA title in Osaka in October - a win that made her the first British WTA champion in 24 years, since Sara Gomer won Aptos in 1988 (Watson was born in 1992). Before that, Watson's best WTA results were three quarterfinals in 2011.
While Watson has just cracked the Top 50, the now-retired Henman made it all the way to No.4 in the world with 11 ATP World Tour titles - he also made six Grand Slam semifinals, one at the French Open (2004), four at Wimbledon (1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002) and one at the US Open (2004).