Thursday 23 November 2017

Heather Watson blasts Twitter trolls who made death threats against her as 'cowards'

Heather Watson celebrates victory over Daniela Hantuchova during day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Heather Watson celebrates victory over Daniela Hantuchova during day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Nick Purewal

Heather Watson has branded online trolls "cowards" for levelling death threats against her on Twitter, ahead of a likely Wimbledon meeting with Serena Williams.

Watson blasted social media trolls, saying "they've got no life", after seeing off Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 6-2 to reach Wimbledon's third round for the second time.

Watson is determined the internet naysayers will not derail her SW19 challenge, expecting to face 20-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, who was due to face Timea Babos on Wednesday night.

"I don't really check for them anymore really, it's become such a usual occurrence that it doesn't really mean much to me," said Watson of online threat-makers, after reaching Wimbledon's third round for the first time since 2012.

"Those people, they've got no life. They're just cowards thinking they can say whatever.

"I still use it (Twitter), I keep posting. I really enjoy posting, it's usually always positive when I win; it's just when I don't win.

"My favourite's posting pictures. I think some people get sick of me posting pictures.

"But I like it so I'm going to keep doing it."

The 23-year-old is adamant she will not stop enjoying social media and will simply ignore the negative messages and threats.

The Guernsey native spoke recently on how in her early days such messages would "really hurt my feelings", but now she is far more bullish about shaking off criticism.

Watson has never faced world number one and top Wimbledon seed Williams, and conceded she would jump at the chance.

Williams has long since balanced a full-tilt celebrity lifestyle with long-term domination of the women's game, and was flanked in her entourage at Wimbledon earlier this week by US rapper Drake.

After popping up on stage alongside Taylor Swift at Hyde Park last week, Williams has switched attention to the day job - and Watson believes the 33-year-old has more than earned that right.

"She's worked hard for it. She's done so well in her tennis life she's allowed to enjoy her life off the court a bit," said Watson of Williams.

"She is big celebrity status. So yeah, she's living it up.

"Serena's a great player, she's an amazing athlete and a great champion.

"She's always the one to watch, she's always the favourite for every tournament she plays.

"So I think she's the one to beat in tournaments like this. She's probably the toughest opponent.

"I've never played Serena before, so I'd love to play her.

"But she's obviously a very, very tough opponent.

"But I feel in matches like that, you've got a lot to gain, so it's a real positive as well to play her."

Watson has banked £77,000 whatever happens next at Wimbledon, admitting as a new home owner that the money will come in handy.

"I've just recently got my own place which has been a big goal of mine for a long, long time," said Watson.

"I'm going to have to start paying bills now, so this will help I guess."

The last time Watson reached the third round she admitted she effectively froze in her 6-2 6-0 defeat to Agnieszka Radwanska, back in 2012.

Three years on, Watson is determined not to let rankings or status affect her game if, as expected, she faces modern great Williams.

"At the end of the day everybody's human," said Watson.

"Everybody's going to make mistakes, everybody's going to have good and bad days.

"I remember playing that match against Radwanska and I wasn't sure how to deal with it.

"I remember overplaying totally and thinking she was going to be this amazing player that I'm going to have no chance against.

"I tried to hit winners on the first ball and that was no good.

"This time isn't my first, second or third Wimbledon. I've been here a few times now; I've gotten a feel for playing the top players.

"Those experiences really help."

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