WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Two days after the death of her grandmother, Katie Boulter was back on the grass at Wimbledon. She wasn’t going to miss a chance to play at her grandma’s favorite tennis tournament.
Her grandfather was right there on Centre Court watching every twist and every turn, and, ultimately, the emotional celebration that came with an upset victory.
Playing through the stress of her family's loss, and the pressure of being in the biggest stadium at the All England Club against last year’s Wimbledon runner-up, Boulter staged a surprising comeback to beat sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
“It’s been a tough few days for sure,” said Boulter, who is from Leicester, England. “I’ve tried to kind of get my emotions out and deal with the situation, try and keep my head on the tennis.
“I was lucky because my grandpa managed to come down from Leicester, and so we could keep him company and keep supporting him at the same time.”
The victory put the 25-year-old Boulter into the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. That’s a pretty good run for someone ranked 118th in the world who only was invited to play at Wimbledon with a wild card, even though she also beat Pliskova last week at a warm-up event in Eastbourne, England.
That was her first victory over a top-10 player.
“I managed to control my emotions very well and played a really good match,” Boulter said. “Ultimately it came down to the wire, and I think I stayed really strong in the tough moments. I think that’s why I got the win today.”
Boulter will face Harmony Tan of France in the next round. Tan eliminated seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams in the first round and then beat 32nd-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday.
"There will be maybe some public (support) for her, but I’m prepared for that,” Tan said of her next match, “because when I play Serena, there is a lot of public (support) for her also.”
The crowd, probably on Centre Court on Saturday, will certainly get behind Boulter once again.
Just like her grandmother used to do.
“Her favorite tournament was Wimbledon,” Boulter said. “That’s why it’s a special one for me.”