LONDON, Great Britain - It was the moment Katie Boulter had imagined ever since she was a child – walking on to one of the famed Wimbledon lawns, taking her place on the biggest stage of all.
She strode on to Court 12 ready to face the USA’s Christina McHale, earphones firmly plugged in to aid her pre-match concentration – but that meant she could not hear the ovation given to her by the partisan British crowd.
She certainly heard them during the match. Her very first point was greeted with a roar, and as she broke the McHale serve twice over, the audience from the neighbouring Court No.2 couldn’t help but look over to find out just what was getting the fans so excited.
“I think the only word I've got for it now is ‘wow’,” she told reporters afterwards. “They really helped me out there today. They lifted me up when I needed lifting up, and I'm thoroughly appreciative of that.”
The wildcard took that first set 6-3 against the World No.60, looking assured and confident throughout. In the end, perhaps, it was McHale’s superior experience that told; and Boulter is not afraid to admit that nerves certainly played a part.
“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 wrong…if you weren't nervous,” she said.
McHale triumphed 3-6, 7-5, 6-3; and it is no wonder that immediately after the match Boulter described herself as “devastated”.
It was evident that the Brit knew full well that she could have won against McHale, who served brilliantly at times but also lapsed into grotesque errors, gifting her opportunities she simply didn’t take.
“I really felt like I could win the match, and I was in with a chance,” she said. “From the very first ball I felt comfortable out there.”
Despite her disappointment, she is delighted to have had the chance to play at Wimbledon at all.
“I think it's something that will give me a lot of confidence moving forward, and 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 it will push me into the next bracket of where I'm trying to reach,” she said.
She now pairs up with Katie Swan for the women’s doubles – and then it will be back out on the road.
“The motivation is so high right now for me,” she said. “Of course I'm upset today, but I'm striving to be here [at Grand Slams], and that's where I want to be.”
Visit www.wimbledon.com to watch live streaming via ‘The Wimbledon Channel’.