LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Heather Watson has never reached the second week of a grand slam and few gave her much hope at this year’s Wimbledon after she needed a wild card to get into the main draw.
Since slipping out of the top 100 in March, however, she has enjoyed a resurgence in form which means she will face Victoria Azarenka in high spirits on Centre Court on Friday.
Things turned in Eastbourne, where Watson reached the semi-finals, and she has continued that momentum at Wimbledon with wins over Maryna Zanevska and 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Azarenka represents a step up in class, even if the former world number one is just feeling her way back into the game after maternity leave.
Watson will, of course, have a Centre Court crowd roaring her on, just as it did in 2015 when she served for the match against the mighty Serena Williams before losing a thriller.
“The thing I remember most is just the support and the crowd during that match,” Watson recalled.
“That’s the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in my life. I was getting goosebumps after every point.”
Twice Australian Open champion Azarenka has won all four previous meetings with Watson but knows the British player will be dangerous.
“I don’t think Heather is defined by that one (Serena) match,” she said.
“I think she’s a great player. She definitely is going to be a crowd favourite.”
Watson is one of four British players in action on Friday, the most to reach the Wimbledon third round for 20 years.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Nick Mulvenney