Sixth seed Johanna Konta savoured a rousing triumph on Centre Court after she and compatriot Heather Watson ensured a landmark day for British tennis at Wimbledon.
Konta prevailed in a three-hour slog-fest with Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 10-8 to join Watson in the third round – the first time two British women have reached that stage since 1986.
The 26-year-old had never cleared the second hurdle at her home grand slam before, but admitted drawing strength from spectators on Wimbledon’s biggest stage as she eventually out-fought Vekic.
“Being on a home Centre Court is pretty special. And the crowd are what also make that special for me, their support for us,” Konta said.
“I absolutely love playing in front of Brit crowds. It does make it that much more when you get to play at home and to have the home support. Not many players get a home slam, so I feel very fortunate about that.”
Konta’s prospects improved further when two-time winner Petra Kvitova, a possible fourth-round opponent, crashed out in three sets to American Madison Brengle.
Watson revives memories of 2015
Watson, meanwhile, is targeting a maiden appearance in the second week of a grand slam after she swept into round three with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
The emphatic nature of Watson’s win revived memories of her run to the same stage two years ago, when she came within two points of beating Serena Williams in a memorable Centre Court battle.
“It’s been one of my goals forever. I made those big goals years ago,” she said. “Making second week of a slam would be huge for me. I haven’t done it before in singles.”
The 25-year-old from Guernsey, who won Wimbledon’s mixed doubles title alongside Henri Kontinen last year, must now face former world No1 Victoria Azarenka, who beat 15th seed Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3.
“I look forward to playing her,” said Watson. “I know she has only just come back [after having a baby], but I expect her to be playing really well because I know she will have put in the hours and the work.”
Tenth seed Venus Williams survived a scare against China’s Qiang Wang, losing the first set before winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.