Home Sport Katie Boulter explains worrying illness retirement weeks before Wimbledon

Katie Boulter explains worrying illness retirement weeks before Wimbledon

Katie Boulter has explained why she played through sickness and ultimately retired at the Birmingham Classic.

The British No. 1 raised health concerns ahead of Wimbledon when she forfeited her opening match after losing the first set. She had just defended her title in Nottingham.

But she is ready to bounce back at the Eastbourne International ahead of her home Grand Slam tournament.

Boulter is already feeling better after illness derailed her campaign in Birmingham. On Tuesday, she called the doctor while facing Anhelina Kalinina and decided that she was too unwell to continue. Her retirement came as a surprise given that she had just defended her trophy at the Nottingham Open a couple of days earlier.

But the 27-year-old has now confessed that she was also sick during her title run and likely wouldn’t have taken to the court in Birmingham if she wasn’t playing for one of the 32 seeded spots at Wimbledon. “Obviously through Nottingham probably most people didn’t know that I was struggling through a sickness more or less quite a lot of the week,” Boulter said in Eastbourne on Sunday.

“So for me, it was about pushing myself to try and get through it somehow I’m not entirely sure how I did it. Birmingham was, if I had any choice, I would have decided not to play. I think I was physically not in a place to play but naturally there was a seeding conversation at Wimbledon which, I think if I didn’t get seeded and I hadn’t tried, I would’ve regretted it.

“So I gave myself the best chance by going up there and trying and obviously it was a little bit too much which is why I decided last-minute to pull out. But I’m feeling definitely better than I did last week.”

Last year, Boulter’s title win in Nottingham came as a surprise. She was the world No. 126 and had spent most of the season playing ITFs after injuries saw her drop down the rankings. This time she came in as a top 40 player and had already lifted a trophy this year in San Jose. But Boulter was still surprised that she managed to keep her throne in Notts.

She explained: “I think it was slightly unexpected. I knew I was going into my first grass court tournament without having played any matches whereas last year I actually played Surbiton, I had the chance to play there and get into it a little bit more. Whereas I kind of was thrown in the deep end and didn’t really have a choice but to be ready and to fight and to try and find a way through in the first couple rounds and I managed to do that.

“And then actually I felt like, as those matches went on, I gained confidence and started playing better tennis. And by the end of it, I was just trying to stay alive more than anything and I felt like I played some of my best tennis.”

Boulter’s injury history is another reason she decided to see if she could play through illness in Birmingham. “As we’ve seen these last few weeks with a lot of retirements, you can’t take stepping out onto the court for granted, I never, ever do,” she added.

“I think I have really built such a good base level with my team in terms of physically and going week-to-week and wanting to play. And that was also another reason I wanted to go to Birmingham, I mean I probably wasn’t in the place to go and play but I wanted to push myself outside my limits and see how far I could go and if I could bounce back and play again, you never know.”


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