Heather Watson: LTA chief dismisses concerns over running of sport

The Great Britain Fed Cup team
Heather Watson (third from left) is part of the Great Britain Fed Cup team

The head of British tennis has dismissed Heather Watson’s concerns about the running of the game, saying it is players who are “ultimately responsible for their performances”.

She said the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) should financially help a larger number of players rather than an elite.

“I don’t recognise much of Heather’s interview,” LTA chief Scott Lloyd said.

“I was disappointed to hear the references to lack of support given the wide-ranging support we continue to provide to Heather and our elite players but they are ultimately responsible for their performances on court.

“We have confidence in the new group of female players coming through on our pathway. I have absolute belief in the performance strategy.”

Watson’s exit on Tuesday, along with defeats for Andy Murray, Johanna Konta, Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Liam Broady, meant it was the first time in seven years no British player has featured in a Grand Slam second round.

Australian Open Second round: Dan Evans, Heather Watson and Harriet Dart
US Open Third round: Cameron Norrie
French Open First round: Heather Watson, Andy Murray, Johanna Konta, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie, Liam Broady
Wimbledon Did not take place this year

The LTA supports a small number of players through two national academies in Stirling and Loughborough, while it also invests in regional and local development centres.

In Jack Draper and Emma Raducanu, who are 18 and 17 respectively, Britain has two outstanding prospects, but the British Tour events staged over the summer showed up a lack of depth on the women’s side in particular.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, Naomi Broady, who has not received funding since the age of 17 after it was suspended by the LTA suspended over images posted on social media, said the amount the governing body gives to a select group of players is “obscene”.

“It’s up to £80,000 a player now,” the 30-year-old former top 100 player added.

“If I’ve managed to make it through my whole career, and I didn’t break top 100 until I was 25 or 26, who on earth needs £80,000 a year? I think it’s disgusting.

“How can you ever be accountable for your tennis knowing that you’re getting that amount of money a year?”

Lloyd also responded to Watson’s comment that she would not get involved with the LTA at the end of her career “because of the politics”.

He said: “I think that the ‘politics’ she talks about is not something I see at the LTA, I prefer to try to get things done.”

BBC News