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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keothavong in tears at press interview

Photo Titled Keothavong crashes

Anne Keothavong falling apart mentally as she feels the match slipping away from her as she loses her first round tie to Austrian Patricia Mayr.

No defeat is ever easy to swallow but Anne Keothavong was reduced to tears and momentarily forced to leave the press interview room following her first round loss to Patricia Mayr this afternoon.

The British number one, who is ranked 51 in the world, bowed out to her Austrian opponent 7-5, 6-2 and it did not take long for the media pack to start serving up the inevitable, harsh questions.

“You say [you have had] a disappointing grass court season. Obviously is it more disappointing because everyone has seen your results over the past 12 months, and thought great. You haven’t really been able to show them?”

To which Keothavong rallied: “There’s no way round it. It’s been disappointing. You know, I have higher expectations for myself. I feel like I’m a better tennis player, well, now compared to where I was this time last year.”

Of course, the Briton is still trying to get to grips with her swift exit from the French Open a few weeks ago where she was swept aside by the hands of Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0.

“Maybe that match in Paris actually dented my confidence more than I realised at the time,” Keothavong admitted. “You know, every week, Birmingham, Eastbourne, here, I’ve always been on the back foot. I haven’t really been imposing myself or putting my opponents under enough pressure.”

Then the press really began to turn the knife. “This is not an accusation, but do you feel as though you’ve let a few people down today,” one journalist demanded.

“I feel like I’ve let myself down more than anything,” the 25-year-old volleyed back. “Wimbledon is such a special tournament to me. And, you know, this year especially, I just felt, I’ve overcome so much just to get where I am,” at which point her eyes began to well up with tears.

“Did you put more pressure on yourself, do you think?” another reporter enquired, at which point emotion overcame Keothavong, she lost her voice and dropped her head.

“Can we stop for a few minutes” the moderator asked as Keothavong was led out in floods of tears mustering an apology on her way. It was a heartbreaking moment and served a purpose in reminding the press and public that players are only human. A few moments later she emerged composed and ready to continue the press conference.

The questions did not get any easier. “The way the Brits are going out today, it’s shaping to be a pretty dark day for British tennis at Wimbledon. Do you feel sort of a collective responsibility, or are you solely focused on your own results?"

But this time Keothavong was ready. “I can only focus on my own tennis. That’s hard enough as it is...You can’t guarantee the results as the end of the day, but I think you can definitely guarantee that all British girls have tried 100%.”

That told them.

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