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Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 13:48 UK

Keothavong seals Wimbledon place

Anne Keothavong
Keothavong is now hoping to qualify for the French Open

Anne Keothavong won the ITF Tour event in Lebanon to become the first British woman since 1999 to guarantee her place at Wimbledon courtesy of her ranking.

The British number one from London beat top seed Lourdes Dominguez-Lino 6-4 6-1 to claim the biggest title of her career - her first on clay.

Keothavong's victory has moved her up to 104th in the world rankings.

The last British woman to reach SW19 without receiving a wildcard or going through qualifying was Sam Smith.

Keothavong revealed she had almost pulled out of the tournament after fighting broke out in nearby Beirut.

She told the Lawn tennis Association website: "I thought I was going to withdraw from the tournament because of all the problems in Lebanon.

"I was ready to get on a bus to Syria but five minutes before I was due on court for my quarter-final they told us that the border was closed and there was no way out.

"I went on court with no preparation and managed to get through the match in three-and-a half hours."

Keothavong beat Kristina Kucova 4-6 7-6 7-5 in that match before finding it a bit easier in the semi-final where she overcame Marta Marrero 6-3 6-1.

"This week has been a great week for me and I've proved to myself that I am capable of playing well on clay," added Keothavong.

Keothavong will now try to qualify for the French Open this month.

The LTA's head of women's tennis Carl Maes said Keothavong was spearheading a new generation of British talent.

"The timing of this win for gaining direct acceptance into Wimbledon couldn't be better," he said.

"Anne has worked long and hard to get to this stage. This victory is also a real team effort and is a great example of how the inter-disciplinary approach is working.

"It provides great publicity for women's tennis and shows how far Anne and the other British women have come in the last 18 months.

"We now have five players inside the world's top 200 who are all capable of winning matches at Wimbledon. They are pushing each other for a spot in the top 100 and I believe it is no longer a matter of if but when."

see also
British women finally on the up
28 Jan 08 |  Tennis
Keothavong falls in maiden semi
22 Sep 07 |  Tennis
Miserable day for British women
27 Jun 06 |  Tennis

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