A TENNIS coach from Warwick who was ready to walk away from playing competitively has taken centre stage on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Marcus Willis is set to play the biggest game of his career this afternoon (Wednesday) against seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
World ranked 772nd, Marcus came through six rounds of qualifying and saw off Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis – who is ranked 54th in the world – on his debut at the world’s most famous tennis tournament.
The 25-year-old joined the coaching team at Warwick Boat Club in March and was set to move to America after being offered a job as a coach in Philadelphia.
But his dentist girlfriend Jenny Bate encouraged him not to give up competing after his qualification bid for Wimbledon began to gather pace.
Marcus, originally from Slough, was ranked 220th in the world a few years ago, before injury and loss of financial backing saw him nearly walk away from competitive tennis altogether.He was the second lowest ranked player to qualify for this year’s tournament.
Speaking ahead of his match against the Swiss superstar, Marcus said: “I’ve played a lot of tennis over the last few weeks and if I stay calm I will play my best tennis.
“If I think ‘oh I’m at Wimbledon’ I won’t play as well.”
Tennis captain at the Warwick Boat Club, Peter Grant told The Observer, all at the club would be supporting Marcus’ as he attempted to pull off one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.
“Marcus has been playing in the club’s first team since he joined us in March.
“He has worked very hard to get this far – the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic play seven games to make it to the Wimbledon final and Marcus has played six just to qualify.
“He is a remarkable player and the club have given him as much support as we can.”