How did you get into sport?
My brother is three years older than me and played a lot, so being an annoying little sister I wanted to copy everything he did! This meant I picked up a racket at 4 years old and I loved it so much I was playing twice a week by the age of 6.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame?
I was not one of the top players in the country, in fact I wasn’t in the top 20 as a 14 year old, but after 3 years of hard work and perseverance I found myself walking on court at Wimbledon.
What are your three biggest achievements in sport?
- Playing against defending champion Venus Williams on Centre Court in 2008
- Competing in all four grand slams including Wimbledon five times
- Commentating on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Who most inspired you and why?
My English Teacher at school. I speak a lot about her influence when I talk about my own journey as she was the first person who was completely on board with my dream to be a professional tennis player and made me see that if I started making the right choices it was a possibility for me.
When and why did you get involved with the Athlete Mentor programme?
I have been incredibly fortunate to learn a lot of the life skills in this programme on my journey as a professional player, but I recognise that a lot of young people don't get that chance. I want to help students see that they have the potential to achieve anything they want and this programme is a fantastic way to do that, alongside teaching them some tennis skills. I have been an Athlete Mentor with Beyond the Baseline for 4 years and really enjoyed learning from the students as well as sharing my own experiences.
What has been your favourite moment as a YST Athlete Mentor?
Seeing a student start on day one with no self-belief and constantly saying "I can't do it. I don't want to try", go through a complete transformation over the course of the 3 visits and by the end of the 3rd visit shouting "Naomi come and see what I can do!". Seeing the change in mindset is the most rewarding part of being an Athlete Mentor.