Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Emily Puts Pain Behind Her to Boost Girl Power

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Emily Puts Pain Behind Her to Boost Girl Power

Article excerpt


A RENAISSANCE of British women's tennis is unfolding at Wimbledon this week. For the first time since 1989, a fourstrong-home challenge is preparing for the second round of the ladies' singles.

Anne Keothavong, Elena Baltacha and Jane O'Donoghue have rightly been lauded for their victories, but perhaps the most unlikely heroine is Emily Webley-Smith, the lowestranked of the quartet.

The 19-year-old, from Bristol, came into the event as the world No349, yet surpassed all pre-tournament expectations with a shock win over France's Severine Beltrame. Today she is set to face the No31 seed Amy Frazier, of the USA, in the biggest match of her life.

Webley-Smith's achievement is all the more remarkable given the horrific ankle injury she suffered 18 months ago - which threatened her future in the game.

The teenager was playing a Challenger series tournament in Cardiff in November 2002 when she shattered her ankle attempting to serve-volley.

It was a huge blow at a crucial stage in her development and required two operations, plus six months on the sidelines, to repair the damage.

She said: "I went over on it and fell forwards, I was on court for an hour before they stretchered me off and gave me gas and things like that. I was in so much pain it was unbelievable.

"There were moments when I thought it was irreparable. I was in so much pain after the first operation, it did cross my mind, 'what am I going to do now?' "But there was no doubt I wanted to get back on court as quickly as possible, it was just that everyone was holding me back saying 'be careful, take care of it'. Since last November it's been absolutely perfect, the second operation fixed it up completely and I have felt so much better."

The period of inactivity which followed her injury was completely alien to the sports-mad youngster. …

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