Dart delivers double-figure win for Brits at Wimbledon
- Credit: PA
Hampstead's Harriet Dart took the number of home victories in the first round at Wimbledon into double figures on Wednesday.
You have to go back nearly 40 years for the last time 10 Brits made the second round and by Tuesday, the nine wins by Henman, Rusedski and co in 1997 had been equalled by this British cohort.
Dart was still waiting for a first taste of the grass at SW19, though, and her patience rewarded with a 6-1 6-4 win over Spain’s Rebeka Masarova.
Understandably there were some nerves, not that it really showed as she breezed through the first set.
The second started just as convincingly before a late wobble, and after booking her place in round two, Dart was understandably thrilled to continue the British success story and match the exploits of 1984.
“I’m just really pleased to get through my first round. It's never easy in the first round of a slam,” said Dart, who is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme – the highest level of support for players aged 16-24,
“There's always nerves. It's been great to see the last few weeks we've (the Brits) all been at the same tournaments and everyone has been doing so well. I feel like we all train together, we all get on really well.
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“I think one person sees one person does well, then another believes that they can do well, too. I think that's really great to see.
“It's not just on the women's side, it's on the men's, too. I feel like British tennis is in a good place.”
The depth on show so far at Wimbledon has been the most enjoyable aspect for the home crowds. Some of it has come from the Battle of the Brits, the event hosted during the Covid-19 pandemic that allowed some of Britain’s best to get matches under their belt.
The players are still active on a WhatsApp group from that competition, with bonds strengthened and new friendships formed.
Dart added: “It was an amazing event we had the opportunity to still play during such a difficult period. A lot of us were already quite close. During that event I think some of us didn't know each other that well, and that was a really nice time to be able to know each other really well.
“It's just been really nice to see that everyone has kind of been pushing along. Everyone knows that everyone has a really good level. It's just about being able to put it in, week in and week out.”
Next up for Dart is a daunting match against Jessica Pegula, a quarter-finalist at the French Open last month. And the 25-year-old knows that she will have to be at her best to challenge the American.
Dartadded: “I’ve never played her. I'm very excited for the match, to see where my level is at. She's one of the best players in the world at the moment. I expect a really tough match.”
*For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website at lta.org.uk.