Bristol teenager Katie Swan will have her chance on the biggest stage after a pair of Wimbledon wildcards but former British No.1 Tim Henman has warned against an over-reliance on the system.
Swan qualified for the main draw of the Nottingham Open earlier this summer – the first time she’s reached this stage of a WTA Tour event in her own right – but needed a helping hand to be at SW19.
The 19-year-old, who became the youngest Brit to play in the Fed Cup in 2016, has been awarded wildcards into the ladies’ singles – where she will face world No.33 Irina-Camelia Begu in round one – and the ladies’ doubles alongside fellow Brit Katie Boulter.
And Henman hopes the continued progression of Swan – currently ranked at 207 – is a sign of things to come as she looks to climb inside the top 200 in the world for the first time.
“At the end of the day if you’re good enough you won’t need wildcards. This isn’t about the same players receiving wildcards year after year,” he explained.
“If that’s the case, it emphasises the standards are not good enough.
“The wildcard has always been there for players coming back from injury or whose ranking can’t get them in but don’t get me wrong they are a luxury.
“If players get those opportunities you really want them to take advantage because they’re playing up a level, the points and prize money is bigger than they’re accustomed to.
“We want to give these younger players the opportunity to experience a higher level of tennis, if they experience that and win matches it can fast-track them up the rankings.”
Henman was speaking at the 2018 Jaguar Championships at David Lloyd Royal Berkshire, the winners of which took home fantastic prizes including Wimbledon Centre Court tickets.
The competition saw 1,668 players from 417 teams compete, with the finals taking place at David Lloyd Royal Berkshire on June 9 and 10.
And with Wimbledon just a few short weeks away, Henman hopes British No.1s Kyle Edmund and Jo Konta can step up and show the way for young home-grown talent like Swan, with Andy Murray coming back to fitness.
“In any area, it’s important to have role models, we’re very fortunate to have arguably the best and biggest tennis tournament in the world at Wimbledon,” he added.
“But it’s important to have those British storylines to go with it. Andy Murray has led that amazingly well for the last decade but he’s obviously had his injury troubles.
“Kyle Edmund has stepped up and played some really good tennis this year getting into the top 20 in the world.
“Jo Konta maybe hasn’t played as well as she would have liked, but she’s still a great player with great opportunities coming up.
“It’ll be really good if any of the British players can have a good run over the grass-court season.”
Tim Henman was speaking at The Jaguar Championships as part of Jaguar’s partnership with David Lloyd Clubs. Visit http://www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/f-pace/index.html to find out more about the F-PACE, the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon