Heather Watson gave a damning verdict on the state of British tennis after her first-round exit at Roland Garros.
Watson’s defeat to Fiona Ferro means there are no British players in the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2013.
Andy Murray, Johanna Konta, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady all failed to win a match in the main draw before Watson lost in straight sets. Norrie was the youngest British representative at 25 while British No 2 Kyle Edmund, also 25, is not playing the event.
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With so little success among the more experienced players, Watson questioned who is going to step up from the next generation.
What younger players? I don’t have anyone to talk about. 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 a 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 my own coach, all of that. I feel strongly about it, that more people need help, and money should be spread around so there’s more competition for everyone.
Watson was also critical of the Lawn Tennis Association, saying she would be put off getting involved after she finishes playing because there is too much “politics” involved.
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“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.
“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.”