How did you get into sport?
I have three older brothers who all played sports growing up. As a 2 or 3 year old, I used to go along and try to join in with them (much to their delight, I’m sure!). Every sport I tried, I loved, and fortunately my parents found a little outdoor tennis club around the corner from our house, where junior membership was just £2 a year. For £8, my parents bought my brothers and I membership, and the tennis courts became our playground for practising every sport we could think of.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame?
At the age of 19, I suffered a reoccurring stress fracture in my left foot, which kept me out of the sport for much of the next three years. During this time, I decided to channel my energy from tennis back to education.
What are your three biggest achievements in sport?
- British no. 2
- Winner of 22 international titles
- 6 x Wimbledon competitor.
Who most inspired you and why?
In 2001, my oldest brother left home to travel around the world, alone. I was 11 at the time and I simply couldn’t believe that anyone could be that brave. Three months later, I was offered the chance to leave home, move to a boarding school and join a tennis academy. I was quite terrified by the prospect, but I was also so inspired by my brother’s actions that I said ‘yes’ and left home aged 12. Without realising it, my brother had taught me not to be scared of the unknown and that, with a little bravery, anything is possible.
When and why did you get involved with the Athlete Mentor programme?
I became an Athlete Mentor in 2014, after being forced to retire from professional tennis with a long-term injury. I never imagined that I would one day be in a position to positively influence and inspire young people. Becoming an Athlete Mentor has not only allowed me to do that, but it has also allowed me to share my passion and provide more opportunities for children to engage with sports and increase their physical activity levels, which leads to healthier, happier young people.
What has been your favourite moment as a YST Athlete Mentor?
Standing back and watching a boy who had never dared to speak in class before lead a PE activity for a group of 5 other children.