THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE slipped away from Wimbledon VIPs yesterday to watch a young British tennis hopeful on a remote outside court. Kate, a passionate fan of the sport, joined fans in the crowd to cheer on Harriet Dart, 22, ranked the world number 182. The Duchess, 37, avoided having to queue up for a spot by arriving early for Harriet’s morning match with America’s Christina McHale on tiny Court 14, which seats just 318.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, sits with Anne Keothavong and Katie Boulter (Image: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge)
Joined by British tennis player Katie Boulter, 22, and Anne Keothavong, 35, captain of the British Women’s Fed Cup tennis team, she sat among ball girls and boys to watch the match for an hour. She left at the end of the first set, which Dart lost. But possibly inspired, the young Londoner, who was given a free wildcard entry into the tournament by organisers, went on to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes. The Duchess, who is the patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, was asked if she had enjoyed the match as she headed off through the crowds. She replied: “Yes, very much so. Yes, definitely.”
Later Harriet said it was an honour to have a royal fan and insisted Kate’s presence had not put her off in what turned out to be her first ever win at Wimbledon.
Describing the experience as “surreal”, she said with a smile: “Any of you guys had the Duchess watch you play?”
Harriet, playing in only her second Wimbledon, said: “I was aware she was watching. The chair umpire mentioned it before the coin toss.
“It’s pretty cool to have royalty watching you. Such a privilege for me for her to see me play.”
TV presenter Melanie Sykes at Wimbledon (Image: Neil Mockford/GC)
She added: “Hopefully she’ll come to many more of my matches.”
Kate went on to watch stars warm up for matches at the Aorangi Park practice courts where she met two-time champion Sir Andy Murray, 32, and British women’s number one Johanna Konta, 28.
She later headed to Court One to watch Konta cruise to victory in her first round match, beating Romanian Ana Bogdan 7-5, 6-2.
Kate also spent time in the royal box alongside England cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott. Other VIPs at Wimbledon included boxer David Haye and TV presenter Melanie Sykes.
Cricket legend Geoff Boycott watches the tennis at Wimbledon (Image: Mike Egerton/Press Association)
Source: EXPRESS CO UK