Johanna Konta and Heather Watson take different routes to the third round.
For the first time since 1986, there will be two British women in the third round of Wimbledon. It was a big day for the home team on Wednesday, as Johanna Konta played one of the matches of the year to edge past Nottingham champion Donna Vekic 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-8 to advance to the third round for the first time in her career. Earlier in the day, Heather Watson had a far easier time knocking out No.18 seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-0, 6-4 in just over an hour.
Watson grabbed headlines for the upset but it was No. 6 Konta who finally had an opportunity to show the British crowd what she can do. Those who follow the tour know that Konta has been one of the biggest stories over the last 12 months, soaring up the rankings in a workmanlike manner to become the first Brit to be ranked in the Top 10 since Jo Durie.
Despite her regular success on tour, the British public can be a tough one to court. Success on home soil, particularly at Wimbledon, can move the needle and Konta put on an impressive display of skill and guts to get past a fantastic performance from Vekic. The two combined for nearly 100 winners and less than 50 unforced errors, with both women repeatedly trading brave holds from 0-30 down in the late stages of the match. After 3 hours and 10 minutes, Konta finally broke the Vekic serve for the first time in the final set and the shared an emotional embrace at the net.
"I think after such a battle, you kind of feel both your own and her emotions, because there wasn't much separating us, for example, me being in her position and her being in mine," Konta said. "So because there was so little separation of going either way, I think you almost do end up feeling a little bit of both, or I do, anyway. I could easily put myself in her shoes and feel what she was feeling.
"It was more of a sense of kind of congratulating her and us for the battle that we presented on Centre Court, which was, I think, was a great atmosphere to be a part of. And then also just to understand also what she was feeling, because as players, we have all been in that position, as well."
Konta faces Greece's Maria Sakkari, who had her own gutsy win over Kristyna Pliskova. Watson has a tough test against Victoria Azarenka, who eased past Elena Vesnina in straight sets.
Naomi Osaka honored to taking the court with Venus.
With her three-set win over Barbora Strycova in the second round, the 19-year-old from Japan has now made the third round at all four Slams. On Friday she will take the court alongside Venus Williams.
"I have seen her play before," Venus said after her three-set win over Wang Qiang. "I think we play a really similar game. I hope that my experience will help me to play that game that we play better."
When told Venus compared their games favorably, Osaka was floored. "I'm kind of honored, because I don't think I would have started playing if Venus and Serena weren't, like, there for me growing up. I mean, it's kind of weird to hear that she, like, maybe she even talked about me."
Osaka was asked about her memories of both Venus and Serena at Wimbledon, and the teenager shyly admitted that Serena was always her No.1. After all, they're both the younger sister. "I'm kind of more of a Serena person. I super love Venus, too, but Serena was, like, my No. 1. One of the things I remember was Serena playing Heather Watson here, and I was screaming at my TV, like, Come on, Serena, you can do it.
"I remember like when me and my sister used to train, like, at public courts and stuff, random people would be, like, Are you the next Venus and Serena? I feel like they had a great role in us growing up. I always wanted to be Serena.
"I don't think anyone can become the next Serena and Venus. I feel like they're legends. I don't think it's possible with the way tennis is now. I just feel like I want to do the best that I can and hopefully that's enough.
“I kind of feel like I have been preparing for this my whole life. But I was supposed to play her in Auckland. So unfortunately that didn't happen. But I was kind of prepared then. So I feel like maybe that was leading up to this.
“Playing her on a surface which is, like, one of her best at a tournament which is one of her best, I'm, like, really humbled to be able to come here from watching her on the TV.”
Simona Halep feeling at home in SW19.
For the first time in her career, Simona Halep is doing what all the cool kids do: Staying at a rented house in Wimbledon Village. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of Central London, the decision has led to a far more chilled out Simona than in years past.
"I'm just chilling," Halep said after her straight-set win over Beatriz Haddad Maia. "Yesterday I stay, like, six hours in the house, just staying.
"I don't want to go to do shopping because it's very far, and traffic, it's really hard. So I'm not doing anything special, just chilling, trying to enjoy this new experience to stay in the house. And I will repeat it. It's very nice.
"I was fine by myself. I don't need to keep my mind busy. I just like to stay not thinking of anything, just staying like that and enjoying the time. It's not easy when you play matches here. On grass, you feel a little bit tired after. It's always nice to have some hours to rest.
"Chilling with my team, having fun, walking a little bit around the house, but nothing special. I'm okay with myself. I'm not getting bored."
Oh, and for those keeping track of Simona's sweet tooth, she's been having desert for breakfast here at Wimbledon. "I had some bread with Nutella in the morning. This is my dessert for this tournament," she said with a smile. "But just on the off days, not when I play."
High Stakes for Heather.
Watson has never made it to the second week at Wimbledon, twice falling in the third round. One of the most memorable matches of her career came in a third round in 2015, when she nearly rode the wave of partisan support to a stunning upset of Serena Williams.
"It's been one of my goals forever," Watson said. "I made those big goals years ago. Making second week of a slam would be huge for me. I haven't done it before in singles.
"And if I do, my coach said he'd shave his head. But I said, No, your girlfriend will kill you.
"You can shave your legs (smiling)."
Konta's crunchy souvenirs from a banner day.
There were flying ants at Wimbledon today. No, that's not a euphamism for anything that happened on court. The All England Club was inundated by flying ants, as swarms of the little bug wreaked havoc on players and spectators. In fact, Konta may have taken a few home with her.
"I definitely have taken home a few both in my belly and in my bags," she said. So how'd they taste, Jo?
"I didn't think about it. I'd rather not."
Jelena Ostapenko is tough as nails.
I'll just leave this here:
Quote of the Day: Take it away, Vika.
Q. Probably the most special example for parenthood and playing tennis is Roger, four kids, touring around for so many years. He's a man, you're a woman. Did he kind of inspire you when you had to switch to become a mother?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Roger definitely has not inspired me. No disrespect to him, and I think it's amazing, you know, but it's a little different for him (smiling).