British tennis star Heather Watson, 27, says she has received racist abuse and even death threats on social media as an online troll was arrested last week for sending ‘hateful messages’ to players
British number two Heather Watson says she has received racist abuse and even death threats on social media as an online troll was arrested last week for sending ‘hateful messages’ to players.
Miss Watson, 27, whose mother is from Papa New Guinea, said she is often subjected to the vicious slurs when she loses a match.
The player from Guernsey also revealed that someone was arrested only last week for sending abusive messages to players online.
‘I have had to deal with a handful of death threats. The WTA takes them very seriously and works with the police to investigate and catch these people,’ she said.
‘Someone was arrested a couple of days ago who had been sending hateful messages to players, but the problem is we get inundated with so many negative comments it’s impossible to deal with them all.’
Of the abuse she has received, she said: ‘I’ve been called a monkey and told to go back to the zoo.
‘That hurt. It’s just so disappointing and sad. It’s usually when I lose a match and mostly from men who have gambled on me to win. They pick on my race.’
She said she was putting the negative comments to the back of her mind as she begins her Wimbledon campaign today in her first round match against American Caty McNally.
But added: ‘It’s been easiest to just block anyone who is offensive, but I’d like to see them say it to my face.’
Other Brit players have also been subjected to racist abuse online including British number four Jay Clarke who has previously spoken out about being targeted by disgruntled gamblers.
The tennis was speaking to You magazine when she spoke about the threats.
She had been reflecting on the painful split with former boyfriend and tennis pro Lloyd Glasspool last year after their ‘passionate and intense’ two-year affair.
Asked if she would date another player, she said emphatically: ‘Hell, no! It’s just too tough. I would never mix business with pleasure again.’
Speaking exclusively to You magazine, the British No 2 reflects on the painful split with former boyfriend and tennis pro Lloyd Glasspool (pictured) last year after their ‘passionate and intense’ two-year affair
The 27-year-old says the fact that Lloyd was also in the game took its toll, with their busy schedules meaning they had to be content with ‘lots of FaceTiming’.
She admits: ‘We blew hot and cold, we ended up arguing a lot and I guess we both put our careers first. We didn’t talk for a while. I had to get him out of my system.’
At a recent chance meeting with her ex, ‘we got on like a house on fire, which was annoying, but we’re over and we’ve got to move on’.
She also spoke of the heartbreak at the end of her first serious relationship, which was with junior tennis player turned banker Phil Stephens (pictured) in 2015. She said: ‘Something so painful happened that I had to end it and it took me nearly a year to get over him’
She also spoke of the heartbreak at the end of her first serious relationship, which was with junior tennis player turned banker Phil Stephens in 2015.
‘Breaking up was so hard that I didn’t think I would survive,’ she said. ‘Something so painful happened that I had to end it and it took me nearly a year to get over him. I don’t really want to go into it.’
Now single again, she recently went on a date with someone she met online but found there was no spark. ‘I’m only interested if there’s chemistry,’ she said.
‘I’m a romantic, I want the real deal.’
But if that ‘real deal’ blossoms, she doesn’t intend to mix playing with motherhood.
She said: ‘If I have a child I want to give them everything, and it’s really hard being a tennis player and a mother.’
But that is yet to come. For now, she says, ‘I want go out, do my thing, party and play some great tennis’.