Dubai: Former Britain No.1 Heather Watson is hopeful of a rare hat-trick when the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games kicks off in Japan next year.
The 28-year-old, whose best was a mixed doubles quarter-final and a second round entry in women’s doubles, is keen to see a third appearance for her country when the Games are staged in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8.
The tennis tournament at the 2020 Summer Olympics will feature 172 players in five events, namely the singles and doubles for both men and women and the return of mixed doubles for the third consecutive time. The tennis tournaments are scheduled to be held at Tokyo’s Ariake Colosseum from July 24 to August 1.
Track cyclist Jason Kenny shares the most gold medals of any British Olympian on six along with fellow cyclist and racing driver, Chris Hoy. Sir Steven Redgrave, the rowing great who won gold at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000 is among those with the most appearances among British athletes at the Games.
Coming in to Dubai for the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, Watson was involved in pre-season preparations with former world number one and Team GB player Andy Murray.
“He’s [Murray] has done a lot, not just for British tennis but for the sport worldwide. We’ve spent a good six weeks getting ready for the challenges ahead and I feel I am on the rigth path as I continue learning all the time,” Watson said.
“I know that I just need to believe in myself and keep going and the results will follow. This is the mind set going deep into this week,” she added.
Born on the island of Guernsey off the coast of Normandy, Watson has so far won nine titles over her career. This includes the prestigious mixed doubles crown at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships with Finnish player Henri Kontinen – thus becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Jo Durie in 1991.
“A third Olympic Games would definitely mean a lot to me. Going to Tokyo next year is definitely among my biggest goals at the moment,” Watson told Gulf News following her first round win over Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic at the 23rd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge on Tuesday.
“I had already made the cut for Tokyo but now with the one-year delay, things are going to be different. But, I am absolutely confident I can make the cut again. I am playing well and should be at my best soon,” the 28-year-old confided.
In October 2012, Watson won her first WTA singles title at the Japan Open, becoming the first British woman to win a WTA singles title since Sara Gomer in 1988.
Watson started playing tennis at seven and by 12, she had moved to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida to purse a full-time career in the sport. Watson improved and in a promising junior career, she went on to win a gold medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games and then the girls singles at the 2009 US Open and reach a career high No. 3 in the world on the ITF Junior Circuit.