The home team has given Wimbledon fans plenty to shout for as the 2022 Championships got underway: nine British men and women earned second-round berths, making for the largest contingent since 1997.

Looking to shine brightest of the bunch is 25-year-old Katie Boulter, who faces former world No. 1 and 2021 finalist Karolina Pliskova on Thursday.

Boulter will feel a slight déjà vu—having just beaten Pliskova last week in Eastbourne—but the Brit has an opportunity for a full-circle victory on Centre Court after coming agonizingly close to a breakthrough win over Aryna Sabalenka 12 months earlier.

“I learnt from my mistakes against Sabalenka,” she assured media after her first-round win over Clara Burel. “When I was playing Pliskova last week, it did make a difference to me because I know I can be in those places.

“Over the past few years, I've had a lot of close matches with very, very good players, but I could never quite get over the line. I feel like I now have the belief to be able to do that. Hopefully I can produce that more and more.”


The Basics

Boulter is likely a familiar face to those who’ve followed major tournaments in the last few years. She won her first Grand Slam main draw match at the Championships in 2018, going on to play Naomi Osaka through two tough sets in the second round.

She began 2019 by making a bit of history, becoming the first woman to win the newly unveiled 10-point tiebreaker at the Australian Open, defeating Ekaterina Makarova, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6).

Up to a career-high of No. 82, Boulter looked poised to move higher before a back injury effectively ended her season. Even as the global pandemic complicated her comeback, her dreams of returning to SW19 kept her going.

“Honestly, I had some really, really tough moments,” she admitted last year, “but those are the moments that define you.”

Receiving a wild card into Wimbledon last year, she booked a second-round clash with Sabalenka, who had hitherto struggled on big stages.

Boulter drew the Belarusian into a titanic final set after winning the first, battling through a marathon penultimate game during which she saved five break points only to come up short on the sixth and lose, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

I really hope that I can push on and stay injury-free. That's going to be my ultimate goal. I've said it year in, year out. I've dedicated a lot of time and effort into keeping myself on the court. I'm hoping this year it's going to pay off. Katie Boulter

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A foot injury threatened to derail her 2022 season, but despite missing three months of actionincluding the entire clay swingBoulter, who is currently dating ATP pro Alex de Minaur is looking better than ever on her beloved grass.

She qualified for a 250 in Nottingham and immediately scored a win over experienced Tatjana Maria. In Birmingham, she reached the quarterfinals after upsetting No. 7 seed Alison Riske in straight sets.

It was in Eastbourne, however, where Boulter truly turned heads: she roared back from a set down to defeat Karolina Pliskova for her first Top 10 win and even led two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova before bowing out, 5-7, 6-0, 7-5.

“I feel like I've shown in some of the matches recently some of the stuff that I'm capable of,” she said on Tuesday. “It's just doing it day in, day out. For me, that is the toughest challenge.

“Of course, I've got so much to work on in my game. I really feel like I can push on. But I do feel like I can compete with a lot of the best players in the world.”


Why It Matters

If Emma Raducanu’s US Open triumph opened the floodgates for a next generation of British tennis, she will have surely inspired those already on tour to match the high bar she’s set.

“It is astonishing to see what that girl does,” Boulter said of Raducanu, who made a winning return to Wimbledon by defeating Alison van Uytvanck.

“I actually got really happy when she won yesterday because it's a sparkling moment for her. It's her first Centre Court win. I know for a fact there will be many, many more of those.”

It’s now up to Boulter to bring the Centre Court crowd to their feet. With plenty of momentum and a historic Wimbledon backdrop, it seems quite possible she will make that happen.