Thursday 27 July 2017

British tennis player Marcus Willis' mother jumps to his defence against Twitter trolls targeting his weight

Marcus Willis of Great Britain celebrates during the Gentlemen's Doubles second round match with Jay Clarke of Great Britain against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France and Nicolas Mahut of France on day six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Marcus Willis of Great Britain celebrates during the Gentlemen's Doubles second round match with Jay Clarke of Great Britain against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France and Nicolas Mahut of France on day six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Marcus Willis of Great Britain celebrates with Jay Clarke of Great Britain after the Gentlemen's Doubles second round match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France and Nicolas Mahut of France on day six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke celebrate their doubles win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon

Rozina Sabur and Sam Dean

He has described himself as a "fat loser" and faced criticism on social media during his grand slam career.

But Marcus Willis has at least one supporter leaping to his defence - his mother Cathy.

The 26-year-old tennis player has faced a barrage of abuse online from social media trolls who have made remarks about his weight and performance during the tournament.

Mrs Willis, a teaching assistant, took it upon herself to seek out online abuse and responded to one troll: "Please tell me, what is your definition of a bully? Maybe it's someone who launches unprovoked personal abuse at someone else?"

Taking another of her son's online critics to task, she said: "I expect he finds your ridiculous insults slightly boring, he's got far better things to do than engage with trolls".

But Willis and 18-year-old Jay Clarke had the last laugh as they progressed to the third round of the Men's Doubles with a 3-6 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-3 win over French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

On his Twitter account, Willis criticised the "unnecessary abuse" he was receiving online, adding it "never happens to my face... keyboard warriors".

Addressing one particular critic, he wrote: "Why do you think your opinion matters?... bitter individual writing negative comments with 100 followers".

Speaking to the Telegraph yesterday, Willis said: “I mean who are they? They have got a lot of spare time on their hands to sit and abuse people on Twitter who are in the spotlight. I’m sure they would rather be in the spotlight rather than sat at home eating a bag of Wotsits."

But he added he enjoyed playing the support of the British crowds at Wimbledon. “It's always great. I think people get behind Brits here, whoever they are. The support was awesome on Saturday, it was loud last year, it was good in qualifying as well. You just get on with it and it's noisy out there, its great.”

Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke celebrate their doubles win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke celebrate their doubles win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon

Willis is known to mock himself and take criticism from friends in good spirit - even earning the nickname Cartman, a character in the satirical cartoon series South Park, due to his weight.

Discussing his nickname he said: "It was hilarious. I was massively overweight... I've got myself in much better shape. I've still got to improve and still a few kilos to get rid of but I'm doing it slowly and I'm fit."

Fellow British player Liam Broady has previously said of him: “He’s the funniest guy on the tour. I think he has that reputation among pretty much all nationalities."

Broady revealed he had earned his nickname for "drinking Pepsis" and "eating Snickers on the court. That’s when he got the nickname Cartman [from South Park]. He lives up to it".

He added: “I think that’s one of his big advantages, he’s so relaxed at this stage. He laughs it off. It’s just a big advantage of his to have. I think he used to be – I don’t think he’d mind me saying – a bit more of a social butterfly, whereas now he seems more switched on and single-minded.”

On Monday Willis and Clarke face Austrian Oliver Marach and Croatian Mate Pavic in the third round of the men's doubles.

Discussing his opponents, Willis said: "I know the shots they like and their strengths, from what I’ve heard. But on the day anything can happen. They might hit their bad shots well or their good shots bad.

“We are not favourites going into any match... They had all the pressure [on Saturday], we didn’t have any pressure.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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