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Page last updated at 21:45 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 22:45 UK

Anne Keothavong Q&A

Anne Keothavong, the first British woman to reach the third round of the US Open since Jo Durie in 1991, talks to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Overend.

Keothavong beat 25th seed Francesca Schiavone in three sets and now faces fifth seed Elena Dementieva in round three.

Anne Keothavong
Keothavong is making her debut at Flushing Meadows this year

How does it feel to get into the last 32 of a Grand Slam for the first time?

I'm really delighted. To be in the third round of a Grand Slam, wherever it may be, is a big thing for me - something I've never done before!

How did you turn around the final set against Schiavone from 4-2 down?

It was tough. She’s quite physical and very fit and it was always going to be demanding but I never stopped believing and I went for it. On her service games I knew I had to step in on her second serve and I guess she got a little tight and it wasn’t a surprise.

What has made the difference this year?

I just feel confident about my game and have more belief in myself. Once I broke into the top 100 things have really stepped up from there and I really don’t think the gap is as big as I once thought.

Have you been inspired by British Olympic performances?

I was following the Olympic performances and it was great to see. Unfortunately I wasn’t there - in fact I was a bit gutted! It’s definitely inspiring and having Andy and Jamie Murray and Ross Hutchins around here, all winning, is nice because we all get on well.


What do you think about playing Beijing gold medallist Dementieva in the next round?

She’s someone I’ve never played and it’s a big challenge but I’m feeling good about my game, I have nothing to lose and I have to focus on my own game.

What’s the best perk about being a main draw player at a Grand Slam?

I guess in the qualifiers you don’t get a courtesy car and have to travel in by bus. It’s just a privilege to be in the main draw at a Grand Slam but not because of the perks!

The Tennis Foundation is pledging to work with the Tennis for Free charity to make tennis more accessible in parks. You can relate to this campaign can’t you?

Park tennis is definitely something I feel passionate about because that’s where I spent a lot of my childhood playing the game, at Highbury Fields and Hackney Downs [in London].

Did you have to pay for that?

Most of the time we got away with it - I guess we had a kind park-keeper who couldn’t be bothered to get out of his shed!

But if you did have to pay £3.50 an hour, you might not be sitting here today?

Definitely. One of the reasons I got into tennis was because during the summer holidays it was free and they had summer camps at Highbury Fields and I spent a lot of my time there with my brother and sister.

It's a big challenge playing Dementieva but I have nothing to lose and I have to focus on my own game

Anne Keothavong

Your career earnings are just over £215,000 for an eight-year career, not a lot when you take into account expenses of an international sportswoman. Does it leave you with much?

It has been tough, especially at the start. There are other careers I could have done but I love tennis and I don’t play for the money, that’s the last thing on your mind when you’re out there on the court. I’ve received a lot of funding from the Lawn Tennis Association and other sponsors and that’s definitely helped me throughout my career.

What about the way women’s tennis is run at the LTA now compared with a few years ago. There’s been a big change in structure - was that overdue?

There has been a big change. Having the new facility [the National Tennis Centre] at Roehampton has been a big part of it. Nigel Sears has helped me a lot this year as has Claire Curran in the last couple of months. I see them trying to build a better foundation for the younger girls coming through - things can always be better still but hopefully we’ll see more girls coming through in British tennis.

You still live in Hackney, east London, and train in Roehampton, south-west London. That’s quite a commute! Doesn’t that get you down?

It is a grind sometimes but I like being north of the river! I love Hackney and it’s where my family is but I don’t spend that much time in London so it’s not too much of a hardship!

What about London 2012? The Olympic Park will be about a mile away from your house so is that an incentive to play there at the age of 28?

I would love to be involved but four years away seems like a long time. I’d love to be there competing and if my body holds out I’ll be there!

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see also
Keothavong clinches historic win
27 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Keothavong wins on US Open debut
25 Aug 08 |  Tennis
Australian Open women's draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Anne Keothavong blog
28 Aug 08 |  Tennis

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