Record number of British female wildcards at Wimbledon as coach says their friendship helped their rise to success

Helena Horton
Katie Boulter, 21, hugs fellow GB player Heather Watson this week at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham - Getty Images Europe

There is a record number of young female British wildcard players at Wimbledon this year, as the women scooped six out of eight of the coveted places. The previous record was set in 2013, when five British women were picked.

Their coach has credited the close friendship of the young women to their success as a group - and they have been tipped to be the next generation of top tennis players.

21-year-old Katie Boulter made her debut last year, but this year is joined by Brits Harriet Dart, 21, Katy Dunne, 23, 19-year-old Katie Swan and Gabriella Taylor, 20. Naomi Broady, 28, who has played at Wimbledon multiple times before, also scooped a wildcard.

Jeremy Bates, the Head Coach of Women’s Tennis at the Lawn Tennis Association, credited their close relationship with their simultaneous successes.

Left to right: Harriet Dart, Katie Swan, Gabriella Taylor and Katy Dunne

He said: “They’ve grown up playing and competing together - they were good junior players, with Boulter, Swan and Dunne in the top 10.

“There has been a natural progression of a very encouraging, competitive, supportive group of players who have committed to professional habits, grown as people and are making a good transition from junior to senior.

“Ultimately there’s no magic formula - it’s credit to them. They all have a good mentality and have worked very hard to earn those wild cards.”

Katie Boulter said she has a close circle of young, female British friends who she socialises with and supports on tour. She told The Telegraph: “I have quite a few good friends on tour, British girls, Australians, it’s difficult because you compete against them at the same time but I have friends in a small circle that I trust.”

In the zone: Katie Boulter is hoping to break into the top 100 this year at Wimbledon Credit: Getty Images Europe

She added: “Last year it was mainly just me [as a wildcard], this year there’s been a really good group of girls who have picked up to that level, I am so pleased for the girls that we are all doing so well, it’s really good for British tennis, it means we have a really good chance this year, we’re all playing against top 100 players.

The tennis star, who has risen from 235th in the world to 139th in just a year, thinks she and her peers are likely to be the next generation of tennis stars, adding: “Whether we dominate this year or in five years’ time is something we will have to see.”

She said tennis fans will be seeing a lot more of this group of women on the court. Ms Boulter explained: “I’m 21 - The average age [at Wimbledon] is a lot higher so I’ve got many more years to experience - I hope we are going to be seeing more of the next generation.”