Katie Swan became the first British woman to come through qualifying at Wimbledon for 20 years with victory over Australia’s Arina Rodionova.
The 22-year-old, ranked 290, swept through the first set and held her nerve in a much tighter second to win 6-0 6-4 and emulate Karen Cross, who achieved the feat for the second time in 2001.
Swan, who has played at Wimbledon three times as a wild card, reacted with delight after the final point was won, and said: “I can’t believe it right now. I’m so happy to be in the main draw. It’s probably my biggest accomplishment in tennis.”
A stand-out junior, Swan has seen her progress in the senior game stall because of a succession of injuries, and she was playing her first match since May because of a thigh problem.
She feared she may be forced to miss Wimbledon, saying: “It was touch and go for a couple of weeks. I just did everything I could to be ready to play here.
“I haven’t played as much as I would have liked in the last year or so. It’s been a very tough year. My team around me, they know how hard it’s been for me. It’s so special to come through qualifying.”
Swan battled from 3-5 down in the third set to defeat American Caty McNally on Thursday but the first set against Rodionova was over in a flash.
The Australian, who had her thigh heavily strapped, took an injury timeout between sets and the second was much tighter, with Rodionova twice recovering from a break down.
Swan’s nerves were evident in the final game but her serve, a key weapon all day, held up well and she clinched her first match point to set up a clash with 23rd seed Madison Keys.
“I knew after the first set it was not going to be as easy in the second,” she said. “She’s a great player, she’s very tricky and I knew she was going to bring out all the junk, and the way she plays is tricky anyway. I just had to stay focused and fight for every point.
“The occasion made me feel very nervous but I felt confident in myself. I made a couple of errors in that last game because my feet weren’t moving enough so I just told myself for every point use your feet and trust yourself, and that’s how I was able to come through in the end.”
Swan, who hails from Bristol but has been based in Kansas since her family moved over to the United States in 2013, was aware of the historical significance of the match.
She said: “I actually saw a tweet yesterday after my match as I was getting a massage and I said to Sam, the massage therapist, ‘Oh my God, I might be the first person to qualify in 20 years. No pressure.’
“I didn’t want to see that but I wasn’t thinking about it when I was playing. That’s a pretty cool achievement, I’m happy with that.”
Swan joins 14 other British players in the singles main draws, and she added: “I have no idea what’s going to happen next week but for now I’m just going to enjoy this with my team.”