By Barbara Galiza
(March 2, 2013) FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil –With the recent successes of Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Heather Watson, it’s safe to say tennis in Britain is in a great phase. Londoner Anne Keothavong, professional since 2001, says things have come a long way in terms of support for the players.
“When I was Laura and Heather’s age, I didn’t have what they have. I had to travel by myself. We didn’t have a national tennis center. Now, 18-year-old players, and juniors, have coaches and a team that accompanies them on tour. With the access you get, there’s no excuse for players today”, said Keothavong on the recent change. “They’re very well supported. Being British, we are in a very lucky position. They are definitely investing more. It’s completely different now than it was 10 years ago.”
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), responsible for tennis in the country, and private sponsors, such as AEGON, aid the players on tour. The profit made from Wimbledon is directed to the LTA and invested in the future generation. Last year, nearly 30 million pounds from that money was used on player development and encouraging people to take up the sport.
“Sport in general is in a good phase in Britain. In the Olympics, it was amazing to see the whole country coming together and supporting the athletes. Whenever I had the time, I would go and watch other events, outside the tennis”, said the Brit, who played doubles and singles on the London 2012 games. “Andy (Murray) is doing very well under the pressure. Hopefully what he’s done will inspire the new generation.”
After making the top 50 in 2009, Keothavong is currently ranked 183th in the world.
“My ranking right now is not where I’d like to be, I’ve had a lot of injuries”, said the 29 year-old after losing the first round in Florianópolis to the seventh seed Kristina Mladenovic, 6/3 6/4.