LONDON– Heather Watson fell to his knees in the middle of Court No. 1 on Friday. She bowed her head to the ground and silently thanked the grass. She took in the moment.
Watson had just advanced into the fourth round at Wimbledon with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 win Kaya Juvan. The smile on her face as she got up said it all.
“It means everything,” Watson told the audience moments later. “Playing in front of you here at home, the atmosphere is everything.”
She stopped while a fan yelled, “We love you Heather.”
“I love you too,” she replied. “Can you all come back for my fourth round?”
If her reaction seemed over the top at the moment, consider this: it’s the 30-year-old’s first major knockout round.
And she’d done it on the wildest, muddled schedule imaginable.
Due to delays caused by darkness and rain, Watson has played singles on all five days of action at Wimbledon so far. She started her first-round match against Tamara Korpatsch on Monday evening – a day the action had previously been suspended due to rain – before being suspended due to darkness and having to be completed on Tuesday.
Then Watson’s second-round match against Wang Qiang on Wednesday night suffered a similar fate, and it was also halted 7-5, 5-4. It took her just one game and eight minutes on Thursday to redeem her third-round ticket.
Through it all, she’s dealing with nights of four hours of sleep, a caffeine abundance, limited late-night dining options (quiche was the only thing available on Wednesday nights) — and a total lack of routine. But somehow the chaos worked in her favor and she achieved her career goal of reaching week two at a Grand Slam.
“[This is] It’s the first time I can be happy about this win because I feel like I was just in focus mode all the time in my first two games. It was like the game hadn’t stopped even after I left the club. It has been suspended; I’ll sleep or try to sleep,” Watson said on Friday.
“It always went straight to the next. So I feel like this win is very different from the others, not just because I achieved one of my goals, but because I have a bit of time to process it.”
But there really wasn’t time for that on Friday. After several media appearances after the win, Watson was scheduled to play with her partner in their first-round doubles match Harriet Dart.
And her schedule is unlikely to get any less hectic over the next few days – Watson also plays mixed doubles Ken Skupskyand they are expected to play on Saturday.
Watson has long been a popular British player for Wimbledon crowds, winning the mixed doubles title at the event in 2016. Now, in her 12th appearance at the All England Club, she has a chance to extend her stay in singles and reach Sunday’s quarter-finals in a clash against Jule Niemeierthe No. 2 seed surprised Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
The two played in Monterrey earlier this year, with Watson winning in three sets. But with so much tennis to play first, Watson hadn’t started thinking about it just yet. She didn’t even know she was playing Niemeier until a reporter informed her.
“It never ends,” said Watson. “A lot of tennis, but that’s a good thing. I’m just making sure I only take care of myself. I’m kind of in the moment right now, don’t think ahead, don’t think back.”