British Number one Heather Watson has hit back at online trolls who criticised her for her weight and appearance. The critics also suggested that women should ‘feel more comfortable in their own skin’.
The abuse comes as ‘Wimbledon fever’ hit the UK following the Aegon Championships across the country.
The 25-year-old won the Wimbledon mixed doubles alongside Henri Kontinen last year. However, she received torrents of personal abuse on Twitter after bowing out in the opening round of the 2016 singles. She failed to finish off German Annika Beck with three match points.
Following her defeat to Beck last year, Watson described checking Twitter as “self-punishment”. Speaking to Radio Times before this year’s Wimbledon tournament, Watson hit back at her online critics. She scoffed at the notion that female tennis players should be expected to look ‘cute’.
“We tennis girls are all fit and healthy but we’re on the court with no make-up,” she said.
Sport isn’t about looking perfect
“We aren’t celebrities who have people on hand to do make-up all the time. Sometimes I wish I could look cute on court but we’re hustling and fighting for every point. That’s the job we have. It just shows that we’re strong and that sport isn’t just for boys. And sport definitely isn’t about looking perfect”.
“I love wearing sports clothes, having my hair tied up in a bun, not wearing make-up. I do love putting on makeup but you don’t have to wear it every single day and you don’t have to change your body to look like pictures you see on the internet”. She continued by saying “I think more girls should feel comfortable in their own skin”.
Watson also revealed that she trains for six hours a day but doesn’t adhere to a strict diet. She admitted she doesn’t shy away from ordering dessert if she’s still hungry. She does, however, try to steer clear of alcohol.
“I have no rules, I love my food and I eat a lot,” she said.
Elsewhere, Watson’s former coach Judy Murray suggested that female tennis players shouldn’t shy away from discussing other interests outside of their craft to better market themselves to potential fans.
Murray said: “Female tennis players need to be encouraged to raise their profiles in other avenues than on the sports pages of newspapers.
“If you have an engaging personality or you can show that you are interested in the Kardashians, or fashion, things that other girls like, then you are far more likely to engage with a female audience. Girls are much more image-conscious at a younger age. It’s almost like they grow up too soon”.
Commenting on the trolls’ abusive tweets, Kaos from Newcastle asked how anyone could “bully” her and expect her to “look perfect. “She is amazing – an athletic body with natural good looks”.
Christina Hawton from Kent also commented saying “It’s all about being comfortable on court and able to concentrate on your game. Melting make-up and loose hair won’t help”.