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Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 18:35 UK

Wimbledon 2010: LTA spoil young players - Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters
Clijsters safely made it through to the third round on Wednesday

Kim Clijsters believes the Lawn Tennis Association spoils the best emerging British players.

The Belgian feels those youngsters need to be hungrier for success after only Andy Murray avoided crashing out of the first round of Wimbledon 2010.

"If you don't have it, it makes you work harder to achieve it," said former world number one Clijsters.

"I don't know if it's necessary at such a young age to spoil kids or to treat them like they're it."

The LTA receives £30m in revenue from Wimbledon and is one of the best-funded tennis federations in the world.

...we don't nearly have the equipment and the facilities that you guys have here

Kim Clijsters

But Murray was the only one of eight British players to progress to the second round at the All England Club.

"I think maybe kids are a little bit too spoiled too soon with what you have," Clijsters, who defeated Croat Karolina Sprem 6-3 6-2 in the opening round, said of the support the LTA gives its young players.

Belgium has three women in the world top 20 while the highest-ranked British female is Elena Baltacha, who is ranked 52.

Judy Murray on failings of British tennis

"We [Belgians] get spoiled in a way that we have great coaches and we have a good system but we don't nearly have the equipment and the facilities that you guys have here," added Clijsters.

Belgian Steven Martens, the LTA's player-director, said he was "disappointed" but not "devastated" at having only one British player through to round two.

Jamie Baker, Anne Keothavong, Laura Robson, Melanie South, Katie O'Brien, Heather Watson and Baltacha all made first-round exits.

"Quite a lot of players came very close to winning," Martens told BBC Sport.

"Four or five could have been in the second round. We must not be devastated none of them did, apart from Andy."

Andy Murray

Murray's win over Hajek was the only British victory in the first round

In a year that no English male qualified to play in the tournament for the first time in its history, Britain has its lowest-ever representation in the second round of Wimbledon.

No Briton has appeared in a Wimbledon singles final since Virginia Wade was champion 33 years ago.

Wade's victory was also the time a British player won a Grand Slam singles title, although Murray reached the final of the Australian Open in January as well as the US Open final in 2008. He was beaten by Roger Federer both times.

"The results that I would want both in the men's and women's is to have representation in the second week of the Slams," added Belgian Martens, who joined the LTA in 2006 and took on the player director role in 2008.

"To get that on the women's side we are probably one, two or three years away from having reasonably consistent chances of doing that.

"By that time Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha are going to be more consistent and we'll have youngsters like Heather Watson and Laura Robson coming through and being able to do so."

Tim Haveron Jones

However, Martens was more guarded about the strength in depth of British men's tennis in the future.

"It will take us another three years to get players who are going to be able to get in the main draw of a Grand Slam on their own merit and that's the time frame," stated Martens.

"Not too many countries have representation in the second week of a Slam, so it's not something you have to have on a consistent basis, but having a shot at every Slam would be something and having one or two players is great."

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see also
Murray eases through at Wimbledon
22 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Andy Murray column
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Three more Britons in early exits
22 Jun 10 |  Tennis
British women suffer early exits
21 Jun 10 |  Tennis
No Englishman in Wimbledon draw
17 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Superb Ward into quarter-finals
16 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Murray to miss Davis Cup play-off
15 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Bogdanovic beaten in epic finale
15 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Bogdanovic hit by wildcard blow
07 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Lloyd resigns as GB Cup captain
18 Mar 10 |  Tennis
GB fall to humiliating Cup defeat
07 Mar 10 |  Tennis
GB relegated after Davis Cup loss
20 Sep 09 |  Tennis

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