Wimbledon: Heather Watson beaten on court and then abused online

Disgruntled Briton discusses perils of Twitter after losing epic tussle 12-10 in final set

Britain’s Heather Watson vents her frustration by bouncing her racquet off the court after she lost a game against Germany’s Annika Beck during their women’s singles first-round match at Wimbledon. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Court one claimed its highest seed when French Open winner Garbine Muguruza plunged to Jana Cepelova 6-3, 6-2. She is the biggest name to tumble but Heather Watson took the hardest fall. Trolling also entered Wimbledon lore yesterday.

Muguruza’s defeat could have been construed as the treachery of grass for a clay court player but the reasons were more prosaic and the Spaniard will depart knowing that movement, as well as her obvious hitting strengths, are required on grass.

Stoic might have described the second seed’s disposition.

“My energy was missing today,” she said. “From yesterday I felt a little bit tired. I felt emptied and I felt a bit sick. I felt she played great, without fear. I had to play today. I went to the court. I didn’t find it.”


Not 100 yards away on court number one, Watson smashed her racquet and fumed at the injustice of losing a game she should have but didn’t win.

On the face of it, it was Watson who appeared more crushed, her interview afterwards the perfect picture of a lonely place and sad expression of disappointment.

When Watson won her first set 6-3 against Annika Beck on Wednesday, the German came back to take the second set 6-0 before a rain-washed Wimbledon forced the first-round match to be finished yesterday.


Watson went into the third set and for over an hour and 40 minutes battled hard to stay in her home country’s Grand Slam. It turned into an epic and in the end the 24-year-old struggled to grasp her opportunities and three match points slipped away before the German player saw her chance and took it to win 12-10 in the third.

The defeat, said Watson, “was one of the worst.”

In the locker room Watson met two other British players, Naomi Broady and Tara Moore, both of them knowing what being beaten at Wimbledon means and understanding what a glimpse at Twitter would mean. Watson did too.

But her mood was bleak, her confidence shot and still smarting from the defeat, deliberately chose Twitter as a form of self hurt. She knew it would be nasty.

“It’s funny you say that,” she said. “I was just in the changing rooms with Naomi Broady and Tara Moore talking about it. After a loss like this I’m so angry with myself, I feel like I need to punish myself...

“I don’t know. It wasn’t a good day. I just went on Twitter. There was plenty.”

Some were more rude than vicious.

"Heather Watson is an absolute Wankatron at tennis," Mr Wilson.

“I remember when people lost at Wimbledon and they weren’t an arse about it,” Food Trucks & Vine.

It hasn't always been so casually abusive. In a recent interview in the New York Times, Watson, spoke out about more serious abuses that have occurred.

Painful death

“I’ve had people threatening to kill me and kill my family, wishing that I get cancer and die a slow, painful death,” she told the US newspaper.

“Horrible words I couldn’t even think up in my head.”

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) are aware that social media has become a problem and issued a statement saying that they employ security personnel trained to handle the issue.

Anyone with problems can notify the WTA and they also proactively monitor player digital/social feeds and follow up directly with players to offer support and assistance.

“What can you do?,” asked Watson. “There’s always going to be people saying stuff. It’s, like, it comes with it. You’ve just got to deal with it. I was just in a terrible mood.

“Why would that cheer me up, people saying nasty things?” she replied to a question aimed at trying to understand what could be construed as a form of self abuse.

“I was in a bad mood. It’s like when you’re in a bad mood and you bang your racquet, it’s not a positive thing. I usually don’t read it too much. They’re not brave enough to say it in person. That’s why they hide behind a computer.”

Former Wimbledon winners including Serena Williams and French player Marion Bartoli have also been attacked online.

“That n***er thing Serena Williams is so ugly,” said one racist keyboard coward.

Some of it comes from disgruntled gamblers, who have lost money on the outcome of the match. After winning the first set, Watson looked to be in a strong position to win her match. Most of the abuse on Twitter is also aimed at the women players.

Very smart

“Is it more women?” asked Watson. “I’d say it’s more women, I don’t know why they bet on us because our results are all over the place. First of all, that’s not very smart from them.”

Eugenie Bouchard, remember her? First-round exit last year, the Wimbledon final the year before. Named after a royal family member, she beat British 16th seed Jo Kontah 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 in the late shift on Centre Court. Now ranked 48 in the world from fifth in 2014, this may be her comeback slam.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times