Southampton's Gabi edges closer to Wimbledon

Gabi Taylor

Gabi Taylor

First published in Sport

SOUTHAMPTON teenager Gabriella Taylor was left momentarily speechless after she became the first British woman to advance to the second qualifying round for Wimbledon with a stunning victory over 19th seed Sofia Arvidsson.

In only her third senior event, the 16-year-old was in scintillating form to progress in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 against her Swedish opponent, who was ranked 29th in the world in 2006.

Taylor played in the girls’ singles and doubles at Wimbledon last year and said she felt no nerves when she walked out on the Bank of England Sports Centre courts, Roehampton.

“I can’t really describe how I’m feeling after that. I’m very proud that’s for sure” she said.

“I think I played really well and I had nothing to lose. There was no pressure on me at all and I just went out there and played my tennis.

“I’m feeling pretty shaky because I’m so happy but when I stepped on court I had no nerves whatsoever.

“I thought I was super aggressive. There were a few points where I kind of backed off and against these sorts of players you can’t afford to do that. But I just stuck to my tennis and I’m really proud.”

Taylor started confidently, breaking in Arvidsson’s first two service games to race into a 4-0 lead.

The Swede replied with a break of her own but she could not deal with the power of the Brit as she wrapped up the set.

And it was a similar story in the second set, with Taylor building a 4-1 lead before holding off a small fightback from Arvidsson to wrap up the match in one hour.

She will now face world number 170 Tereza Smitkova on Wednesday after the Czech overcame Sofia Shapatava 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) and Taylor, who idolised Justine Henin growing up, admits she will be raring to go..

“I played in the WTA’s 50k challenger tour and that was all practice for me,” Taylor said.

“I’ve gained all my confidence now and I’m just going to go out and play my tennis.

“I liked Henin quite a lot. First of all she’s not particularly tall like me so it just gives me that boost because it shows you can do so well even if you’re not that tall.”

As the Official Banking Partner of The Championships, HSBC is helping fans get closer to Wimbledon by giving them the chance to win Centre Court tickets. For further information, visit www.wimbledon.com/hsbc

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