Roland Garros

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Paris, France

Heather Watson

Press Conference

H. WATSON/F. Ferro

7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk us through what happened from your perspective and the disappointment of going out first round.

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, I thought that I've played a lot better today than I had done in the States. To be honest, I didn't really enjoy the courts in the States at all. I didn't feel like I played well one day there.

I'm pleased that I was timing the ball better here and that. But obviously it's all about the result, so not pleased that I didn't get through that today. That's life (smiling).

Q. I didn't know much about Fiona Ferro until she won Palermo. She looked pretty well-adapted to clay. What was your take on her game?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, she's a really good player. I played her twice in January. Both really tough matches. Obviously it's a different surface. I would say that clay is her more preferable surface.

I knew it was going to be tough, but I still felt like I was right there with her, had my chances. Yeah, she's a good player. I knew it was going to be tough. She was better than me on the day.

Q. Unfortunately that's six Brits now that have gone out the first round. Can you put your finger on why it's just not worked for the British players at the French Open? First time in seven years we have no wins at a major slam.

HEATHER WATSON: You know, it happens. It's unusual circumstances. Everything is very different for everyone. I don't know what it is, but it happens sometimes. With results that are happening right now, I think you'll see a lot of unusual ones just because people deal better under the circumstances, like only being able to be in the hotel and the club. Some people need that escape from tennis just to be able to walk out, get a coffee, just go for a walk in the street, get some fresh air.

Yeah, it's different for everyone. I feel like it's just been bad luck this year. It's happened. But the positive thing is we did have seven players in the main draw.

Q. A lot of the headlines last night and this morning were that you were the last Brit standing even before you walked out onto the court. Did you feel any weight of expectation before the match? If so, did that affect how you played in any way?

HEATHER WATSON: No. I mean, I knew it was the last Brit standing in the singles, but it didn't play on my mind at all because I'm quite good at keeping that stuff outside, the opinions of others outside. I'm used to it now.

I just wanted to play well for myself. I think I did myself justice today. Obviously it's not the result that I want.

Q. How has the year been for you? Have you found it very difficult? What are you planning to do for the rest of the season?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, the year started off great for me. I made semis of Hobart from qualifying, I won Acapulco, then coronavirus happened. To be honest, I didn't enjoy my lockdown. I've been open about that. One of my favorite parts of tennis is it being on a big stage, these big tournaments with the crowds. That's what I love most about tennis, is competing at these big events with the crowd going crazy. I've always had good support here in Paris. I struggle with that aspect of it.

Yeah, it's not great results-wise. But I'm not sure what I'll do the rest of the year yet. I haven't decided.

Q. On the issue of not having any wins this year, it's the first time it's happened in a Grand Slam for seven years or so. Do you think British tennis has moved on over that time? Do you see there are still issues to be addressed? If so, what would you like to see changed?

HEATHER WATSON: What do you mean by 'moved on'?

Q. 2013 was the last time that we didn't have a British winner in the singles at a Grand Slam. Just seeing whether you think British tennis is in a better place since then or do you think there are still issues that need to be addressed?

HEATHER WATSON: Tough to say. I feel like we've got a good little group of players, good little group of players right now, but little.

For me, as far as like the next generation goes, Jo is 29, I'm 28, Evo is 30, Norrie is young. Apart from that, I don't really see who's next. I don't see who's going to be top 50.

I think personally that more players need to get help rather than just helping your selected players, I don't know how many there are, but handful of players. I feel like there needs to be a bigger pool of support. That way you're not spoiled and not given everything at a young age. You need to work for it, learn the grind and the hard work of the tour, what it takes. It would give more people the opportunity.

Right now if you don't have any funding, tennis is an expensive sport, you need help to travel to tournaments, to pay for a coach. It's so expensive. I haven't had support since I was 23 years old in that sense. I pay for me own coach, all of that.

I feel, yeah, strongly about it, that more people need help, and money should be spread around so there's more competition for everyone.

Q. You've been crystal in the past about maybe some of the younger players not working hard enough. Do you think that's an issue still as well?

HEATHER WATSON: What younger players? I don't have anyone to talk about.

Q. On the subject of players coming through, I mean, it seems strange to me that we have so few women. When you look at the Americans, they've got loads of women coming through. Economically it's so much the best sport to play for women in particular. Do you think there should be more emphasis on getting that message into athletic girls in this country so they know this is a sport where they can really make a good career, a good living?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, like you said, it's the best sport for female athletes. Nine of the top 10 highest paid athletes in the world are all tennis on Forbes.

Yeah, you know, I think we do have to get that message across. Like you said, the United States is doing an incredible job. We don't have the excuse of bad weather or anything, because then you've got countries like Czech Republic that are doing great. France has rainy weather, too. They've got so many players.

Yeah, I definitely think we need to get more young girls in the sport. It's a great career path. Show young girls that tennis and sport is a positive thing. Yeah, it's a good life.

Q. When other players from your country are sort of losing matches, not doing so well, is that in your head at all? Is it just you're focused on your match and it doesn't matter?

HEATHER WATSON: No, yeah, of course I want the other players from my country to do well. We're still in a group chat with the Battle of the Brits. I'm in a group chat with all the Jacks. A group of us went to go watch Liam's match the other day. We all support each other, but it doesn't affect me at all for my match personally.

Q. You're a professional athlete, but you've also touched on the fact that it's been a challenging time for you this year. How important is it for you to keep a sense of perspective and almost box off what's happening in your professional career against you as a person, your own happiness and well-being?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, I think you've really just hit the nail on the head. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by such good people, great family, great friends, that all keep me grounded and keep things in perspective for me.

There's a pandemic going on right now, you have to realize. I'm not taking my results right now -- obviously I want to win, I'm giving everything to win, but I'm not going to overthink it. Yeah, just focusing on how I can get better, but realizing that it's not easy for everyone right now.

Q. How important is Courtney in all that when you go back and debrief after this? Will you get a chance to get to Yeovil any time in the next couple months?

HEATHER WATSON: Yeah, Courtney is super supportive. He watches all my matches, even when I'm playing in the States, he's up at 3 a.m. He's really good like that.

When I was talking about family and friends, of course Courtney is a part of that that keeps me grounded. Of course he wants me to win, but it doesn't change anything. He's always proud of me.

Q. The dizziness that you had in Istanbul, is that a long-term thing? Was that a one-off? Something that will cause you issues going forward?

HEATHER WATSON: I had that for weeks actually. I'm going to get some blood work done when I get back. Actually, the last two, three days I've been feeling more myself. Before that, I still wasn't feeling right when I got to Paris.

Again, that's me putting things into perspective, that my preparation hasn't been ideal, I haven't been feeling 100%. I will go home and do that now, rest up, see what the rest of the year looks like.

Q. Do you think the achievements of the players of your generation, if you like, have paved over the cracks of what is wrong with the system? Would you like to get involved? Do you see yourself getting involved in British tennis in the future, trying to help improve things?

HEATHER WATSON: I'm very supportive of the players and that. We've had great players. We've had Jo Konta, top 10. Andy Murray has been flying the flag for so, so long. Then you've got, like, your me's, your Evo's, your Norrie's, your Ked's we've all had great careers so far. Still got years to go yet.

But I definitely wouldn't want to get involved because of the politics. There's loads of politics involved. If I'm honest, I don't think my voice would be heard anyway.

Q. That's at the LTA specifically you're talking?

HEATHER WATSON: Well, LTA is British tennis, isn't it? What else?

Q. That's a shame though, a player that has done so much for British tennis, you now feel there's not a place for you. That's a pretty sad reflection of British tennis, isn't it?

HEATHER WATSON: Well, I don't know. I've thought about life after tennis. I see Anne Keothavong now, Fed Cup captain, how she's taking that next step in life. I admire that. I look up to her. Maybe that's something I would do, I can help in that sense.

Apart from that, I don't like arguing. I don't like things with politics at all. I think things are just black and white and simple. Like I said, I think lots of people should get help and support and have the opportunity rather than just a very small amount.

Q. The National Academy seems to be concentrating all resources in a small group. Presumably you're not that keen on them?

HEATHER WATSON: Not keen on what?

Q. The National Academy, knowing the 12 people in two sites, which is quite small, given six years of people, have been narrowed down to 20 students. That's quite a small cross-section, isn't it? That seems to me to be concentrating a lot of resources on a small group. I wondered if that was something you thought was too concentrated on too small a group of people?

HEATHER WATSON: That's what I'm saying. I'm saying I feel like the more people you help, the more competition there will be. Who knows? For example, you don't know who's going to make it. Everybody can have their opinion. You have your talented people, but you also have your hard workers, the people that are dedicated, ask all the questions and that.

It's not just the talented people that get through. If you give the hard workers an opportunity, too, you'll have more of a pool of players. The more competition there is... When you see your countrymen and women doing well, it spurs you on, it inspires you, it inspires people to play the sport in general.

Yeah, what I'm saying is I just think resources should be spread around rather than concentrated.

Q. Why do you say you don't think your voice would be heard?

HEATHER WATSON: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. Yeah, I don't know. I just don't want to get involved. Like I said, I don't like arguing. I don't like politics. Everyone is going to have their opinions anyway. This is just mine.

Q. Is that from your sort of dealings with the LTA, you feel like you haven't been heard in the past?

HEATHER WATSON: I don't know. I don't know.

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