Katie Boulter declared she has come “full circle’” by returning to play for Great Britain at the Copper Box Arena this weekend. The British No.1 played through the pain of a spinal stress fracture at the Olympic Park venue against Kazakhstan in April 2019 before missing the rest of the season.
After her career stalled during Covid, the Leicester City fan is now back at the sold-out East London arena leading the British team in a Billie Jean King Cup playoff against Sweden.
“It really was something that stuck in my memory for many, many years,” said Boulter. “I have told Jodie (Burrage) how incredible that was playing here in front of the British crowd.
“But I think I see the positives and the negatives of that tie. I really do. And I learned a lot from the situation that I was in, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s a full circle for me. I’m glad to be back here and I don’t think I’d be in the position I am right now, if it wasn’t for that tie. So I’m glad to be back here with a great team behind me.”
Boulter is now up to world No.58 after winning her first WTA title at Nottingham this summer and reaching the third round at Wimbledon and the US Open. She now intends to finish her best ever season by improving her Great Britain singles record of 7-3.
“I take this event very seriously and it’s one I always love playing,” she said. “I don’t doubt that I want to go out and get two wins, or one win on the board, anything I can do for this country. Regardless of that, I’ve had a great year, no matter what happens tomorrow but I can assure I’ll be doing my very best to get us on the board.”
British No.2 Burrage will make her Billie Jean King Cup debut in the opening match today against world No.372 Kajsa Rinaldo Persson before Boulter takes on world No.532 Caijsa Hennemann.
Sweden will be without their injured top two players world No.102 Rebecca Peterson and world No.163 Mirjam Bjorklund to leave Britain as heavy home favourites.
But GB captain Anne Keothavong insisted: “We’ve still got work to do this weekend, and we’ve got to do our best to get the job done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.” The winners will go through to a qualifier next spring to reach the Billie Jean King Cup finals next November.
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Keothavong also joined the criticism of the shambolic WTA Finals in Cancun where players complained about the conditions on and off the court.
The former British No.1 said: “I think most people in tennis watching from afar would probably question what was going on? And I felt for the players. That’s the WTA season-ending championships. That’s meant to be the highlight of the year for those top eight players and the doubles players. And the conditions and everything that they had to deal with was difficult.
“And I think (WTA chief executive) Steve Simon has come out and he’s taken responsibility and acknowledged that it wasn’t good enough for the players. Hopefully the WTA will be able to work and find a solution to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again. But I think out of respect to the players, they deserve better.”
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