Anne Keothavong proved that British tennis players are more than capable of rising to the big occasion as she pushed Caroline Wozniacki hard as they clashed in the opening round of the Olympic tennis at Wimbledon.
Making her Olympic debut on Centre Court, Keothavong began in the best way possible, breaking the Dane to start, and then holding to love to cement the break, crushing a forehand winner past Wozniacki as she did so. Roared on by a Centre Court crowd who sounded more like they were at a Davis Cup tie than at SW19, as is fitting for an Olympics, Keothavong clung onto the lead, and even had a set point on the Wozniacki serve. Taking the opener 6-4, Keothavong was making Wozniacki look extremely uncomfortable.
But battling it out is one of those things Wozniacki does best. Despite going a break up and then seeing Keothavong claw it back, she broke again to take the second set 6-4, and send the match into a decider.
Breaking again to lead 2-1 in the third, with the wind very much in her red and white sails, the eighth seed secured a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory as Keothavong sent the ball long.
Although disappointed, Keothavong was pragmatic about the outcome.
"I thought I got off to a great start," she said. "I thought I was playing some great tennis in the first set and outplayed her there. Yeah, she did get better. I mean, she started making a lot more first serves. And, you know, she was hitting it pretty deep. She missed less. I don't feel like that was a match I lost. I felt like she beat me. She was the better player."
But the Brit made sure to credit being part of the Olympic experience.
"Being out on Centre Court, I mean, that was amazing. It wasn't full, but the people who were there made plenty of noise. You know, this is my first Olympics, and that kind of support, you know, that inspires me to want to get out there and, you know, work for the opportunities to be out there again come Wimbledon next year.
"It's been a great, great feeling to be part of Team GB, and I couldn't be any more proud to wear red, white and blue."
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