‘The right direction’: Britain celebrates best Wimbledon first round since 1984

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<span>Photograph: John Walton/PA</span>
Photograph: John Walton/PA

A piece of history has been made at Wimbledon as 10 British players stepped out in the second round for the first time since 1984.

Harriet Dart, 25, defeated Spain’s Rebeka Masarova in straight sets as the crowd roared and her mother watched on, while British men’s No 1, Cameron Norrie, 26, was also triumphant on Wednesday, beating Spain’s Jaume Munar and reaching the third round.

But their victories were followed by disappointment for the US Open Champion Emma Raducanu, 19, and wildcard Ryan Peniston – who both crashed out of their second-round matches.

The British women’s No 1 lost in straight sets to France’s Caroline Garcia, 28, the world No 55. She charmed fans last year as she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon weeks after finishing her A-levels, and two months later she won the US Open without dropping a set.

The two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray also crashed out of his second round match on Wednesday night, losing to the US’s John Isner. The crowd gave Murray a standing ovation as he left Centre Court.

Despite their losses, tennis fans continued to speak of their pride in the British players. Heather Watson’s match against China’s Qiang Wang was suspended on Wednesday night due to bad lighting. She was leading 7-5, 5-4.

It comes after six Britons triumphed in their matches on Tuesday – the most to have ever won on a given day. Watson, who broke down in tears after defeating Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, was among those who progressed to Wednesday’s stage, along with Jack Draper, who beat Belgian Zizou Bergs; Liam Broady, who got the better of Lukáš Klein after five sets; Katie Boulter, who triumphed over France’s Clara Burel; and wildcard Alastair Gray, who pulled off a remarkable win against former Wimbledon boys’ singles champion Tseng Chun-hsin. Peniston, who endured cancer at the age of one, was also victorious but was defeated by the USA’s Steve Johnson on Wednesday.

Leicester-born Boulter, 25, told reporters she was “absolutely loving” the atmosphere after becoming the last Briton to reach the second round on Tuesday night.

“I feel like everyone’s pushing themselves, almost just spurring each other on with the little bit of magic that’s going on in British tennis right now,” she said.

“I feel like I’m catching a little bit of it and I hope that I can push other people with that. It’s really nice to be a part of it. I know how hard they work behind the scenes. Everyone’s doing great, and hopefully we can keep that going. We’re in a really, really good place. I hope that, yeah, many more wins will come off the back of that.”

Raducanu acknowledged the British talent at her press conference, telling reporters: “Everyone has been doing really well and inspiring each other. I think that’s a great thing for British tennis in general. I wish them all the luck for this tournament, and will definitely be supporting them.”

Dart also paid tribute to the British players in her post-match interview, saying: “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 … I feel like British tennis is in a good place.”

Michael Bourne, the Lawn Tennis Association’s director of performance, said that the achievement of the 10 players was something he hoped would give everybody “faith and belief” in British tennis.

“I hope this achievement gives everybody in British tennis … but also the wider British public, faith and belief that we’re going in the right direction,” he said. “This is a marker on our journey, it’s not the end point. International tennis is highly competitive, but we believe we can do successful and special things in the coming years.”

Bourne added that the Pro Scholarship Programme, which five British players at Wimbledon are a part of, including Dart, had been a great benefit in the success of British players at Wimbledon so far.

“I think the benefit of the programme has been what we’ve focused on, and we believe we’re being international in trying to create what those players need,” he said.

Despite Raducanu’s second round defeat, tennis fans remained hopeful about the level of British talent.

Alice Idleworth, 31, a freelance copywriter, said: “With Emma going out, I hope she doesn’t feel too disappointed because she’s still achieved so much. But I hope we don’t focus too much on that disappointment because there are many more exciting British tennis players to see over the next week or so.

Esther Halloway said: “[British players] have done so well so far this year, it’s been really nice to see the legacy of the great British tennis players being seen at Wimbledon this year. Whatever happens we’re really proud.”

The 58-year-old said it was “incredible” to have 10 players through, adding: “I’ve been coming to Wimbledon every year since 2014, apart from 2020 of course, and we’ve never been anything close to achieving anything like that.”

Jamie Taylor, a 26-year-old student from Hertfordshire, said the record-breaking numbers were “extremely exciting”, adding: “I wouldn’t say I’m the most patriotic person out there, but even I can’t hide a smile at the prospect of the Brits doing well.”

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