You can well imagine that the grass court season is traditionally a time of excitement and yet dread for the men and women of British tennis. On the one hand, they have the chance to play at home, in front of home crowds, to sleep in their own beds, but with all that comes pressure, expectation, and the inevitably negative headlines.
But none of that seems to bother Heather Watson, who this week launched the Aegon Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club, the first of the British grass court events in the lead-up to The Championships at Wimbledon.
"I love the tournament at Birmingham, I’ve played there before, everybody there is so nice," Watson says. "There are a lot of people that come to watch and support, and it’s just a great tournament, great preparation for Wimbledon."
For Watson, wearing the tournament's bespoke ring in the image above, it's also the unique opportunity to play on grass, something she admits she has always looked forward to.
"Grass is one of those surfaces that on the day the person that is the most committed and going for their shots that’s going to come out on top," Watson says. "So you need to go for more risky shots, I like that, because it’s a challenge and really forces you to bring out your best tennis."
The British youngster, who reached the quarter-finals at the Aegon International at Eastbourne on her debut, and the third round at Edgbaston on her debut there, is hoping to build on what was a disappointing loss in the first round at Wimbledon last year.
"I do feel older, more experienced, I am playing these tournaments for the second and third times now, there’s a lot for me to learn and experience for me to gain but every year you do get more and more used to it," Watson says.
The teenager, who has established herself as a regular member of the WTA top 100, admitted it is experiences like playing in front of big crowds that make all the hard work and all the training worthwhile.
In Miami I got to the second week of one of those big tournaments for the first time, which is so much better, better players, I really enjoyed getting to that stage," Watson says. "The night match against Azarenka, even though I lost, that was another experience, with the crowds. That’s why I play tennis."
Buy tickets to the Aegon Classic at www.aegonclassic.co.uk
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