LONDON, Great Britain - Manchester champion Ons Jabeur and Nottingham quarterfinalist Katie Boulter are among the seven players announced in the first tranche of wildcards for Wimbledon 2018.
Tunisia's Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam at Roland Garros last year, reversed a poor start to 2018 by taking the ITF $100,000 title in Manchester last week without dropping a set. The 23-year-old, the junior champion in Paris in 2011, has rocketed nearly 50 places up the rankings to No.133 as a result.
The remaining six wildcards announced today are all home hopes.
Katie Boulter, Gabriella Taylor, Harriet Dart, Katy Dunne and Katie Swan are a cohort of Britons who have been on the rise in 2018. This has been led by 21-year-old Boulter, who has made steady inroads since spending almost the whole of 2015 on the sidelines due to injury and illness, and now sits at a career high of No.139 thanks to a maiden quarterfinal run in Nottingham last week that included a victory over Samantha Stosur.
20-year-old Taylor has been one of the strongest performers on the ITF Pro Circuit over the past six months: between December and March, she posted a 25-2 win-loss record, sweeping up four $25,000 titles across India and Australia en route, and has soared from No.339 in December to her current No.182. Back on home soil for the grass swing, Taylor immediately scored a maiden Top 100 win at the Surbiton ITF $100,000 event over compatriot Heather Watson, and acquitted herself well on her WTA debut in Nottingham by pushing defending champion Donna Vekic all the way in a marathon 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(3) loss.
In previous years, 21-year-old Harriet Dart has become known for her epic losses in Wimbledon qualifying, falling 2-6, 7-5, 13-11 in the final round to Ekaterina Alexandrova in 2016 and 4-6, 6-3, 9-7 to Cagla Buyukakcay in the first round in 2017. This year, Dart has begun to make her mark elsewhere, climbing from No.315 at the end of last year to a career high of No.190 this week thanks to a 30-11 win-loss record that includes solid performances at the grass ITF $100,000 warm-ups - a semifinal in Surbiton backed up with a quarterfinal in Manchester. Dart is also unbeaten against fellow Britons this year, having scored a win over three of her six wildcard compatriots.
23-year-old Katy Dunne, who rose from a 2017 year-end ranking of No.301 to a career high of No.212 at the end of May, has also had a strong grass season so far, scoring her maiden Top 100 win over Natalia Vikhlyantseva in Birmingham qualifying 0-6, 6-2, 6-2; while 19-year-old Katie Swan, the 2015 Australian Open junior runner-up, is now perched at a career high of No.206 after qualifying for her first WTA main draw in Nottingham.
Rounding out the first batch of wildcards is former World No.76 Naomi Broady, who reached the second round of Wimbledon in 2014. One final wildcard spot is still to be announced.
Five qualifying wildcards have also been handed out, led by last year's junior champion Claire Liu. Four further recipients are young home players: 15-year-old Emma Raducanu, who won the ITF $15,000 event in Tiberias, Israel in May to become the youngest current player with a professional title to her name; plus 17-year-old Francesca Jones, 20-year-old Maia Lumsden and 15-year-old Holly Fischer.