By Ros Satar

  • Heather Watson faces Serena Williams in the third round of Wimbledon 2015
  • Watson is into the third round for the second time of her career
  • First time meeting between the pair

London, UK – Heather Watson faces a huge challenge last on Centre Court on Friday as she faces World No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round of Wimbledon 2015.

It has been a tournament of ups and downs for Watson, if we’re being honest. From tardy starts to gutsy fightbacks, Watson has displayed the grit that made her the first British woman since Sara Gomer in 1988 to lift a WTA title – a feat she then repeated at the start of the year in Hobart.

She had her best results in Indian Wells this year before things tailed off a little for her and an injury collected at the French Open actually curtailed her grass court season, causing her to pull out of Nottingham, with an early exit in Birmingham. She finally put together a couple of wins in Eastbourne, including an emotional reaction to the crowd support after she beat Elina Svitolina.

Of course Williams has nothing to prove, but she can maybe be at her most vulnerable at the early stages of a Slam. She has progressed in straight sets, sure enough but not without some plucky resistance over the other end of the court as the pleasing symmetry of successive 6-4 6-1 wins greets us in the draw.

On paper, we have no reason to believe that we will not see the same but for a couple of factors. Watson will have a strong crowd backing her, and she has made the kinds of changes to her game that we expect to see from someone wanting to challenge the best.

She reached her career high at the start of the year, and ironically with the extended grass court season, her Eastbourne semi-final points came off a week sooner, causing a bigger drop than anticipated to exacerbate her struggles in Birmingham.

Watson will have to do everything well on Friday. First and foremost she will need to get on the end of Williams’ serves, to give herself every chance of staying in the point, and there can be no slow starts this time. Most importantly though, the work she has been doing to quicken up her serve will need to come to the fore, because her serve is punishable.

One thing that did impress in Eastbourne was a move back to a more defensive style when her aggressive approach really was not working. It was refreshing to see someone actually think on their feet instead of steadfastly sticking to a game plan that was going nowhere fast.

Of course the circumstances were very different in Eastbourne – there the wind comes in at all angles, along with seagulls. The most we have had here is an inquisitive sparrow, and scorching temperatures. As ever, it could be as much on Williams’ racquet to lose, and if there is even the hint of her going off the boil, Watson has to be ready to step up the aggression and take it to her.

Watson and Williams are scheduled third on Centre Court, not expected before 5pm BST. The batch will be televised by the BBC, or follow the match using the Britwatch Sports Live Score service

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