Heather Watson: "When I was 22 I had glandular fever, which is mono"

2019 was another year to forget for Heather Watson, who even fell out of the top 100

by Simone Brugnoli
Heather Watson: "When I was 22 I had glandular fever, which is mono"

2019 was another year to forget for Heather Watson, who even fell out of the top 100 after being, in 2015, number 38 in the world. The former British No. 1 and current British No. 2 won the mixed-doubles title at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships with an amazing Henri Kontinen.

Upon Watson reaching the 2011 French Open second round, Andy Murray commented "When I saw her for the first time, I thought she was good. I like the way she moves on the court. She's very balanced". Bollettieri stated that Watson's "game is based on great movement, but she's not afraid to whack the ball.

She's not easy to beat. She has very good ground strokes, though she can over-hit and strike the ball a little too flat at times". In a new entry in Behind the Racquet's photo-essay series, Watson recalled some episodes from her past: “When I was 22 I had glandular fever, which is mono.

People go through things much worse, but this was one of my toughest moments because I was at my career high, at the time, of 39 in the world. I remember at the Australian Open, I was just so tired and I could not be asked to walk on for my first round match.

The match before me was one of those where you just don't know when it's going to finish. I literally warmed up with my fitness coach for an hour just trying to stay warm. I eventually got on court and was down 3-1 in the first set and already cramping.

I’m like, ‘For f**k sake.’ I thought it was because my warm-up was too long. I knew I didn't have enough energy, but at the same time, I'm thinking it is only 3:1 and I've just had pre-season, this is not normal.

I get down 6:1, 3:1 and called for the doctor. I told him I couldn’t do this and he gave me some sugars and electrolyte drinks and pushed me to keep going. I kept the points as short as possible and somehow managed to win the match and the one after.

I caught myself in my room, curled up in a ball thinking, ‘I hate tennis. I don't really want to play anymore.’ I finally told my coaches how I was feeling and they thought we needed to be training harder. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Even after we put in extra work I felt myself continuing to cramp and feeling extremely tired. I told my agent I was done." The WTA physios gave me the first piece of helpful advise. They insisted I get blood work done. I got the results that said I had mono.

I was actually relieved I had something because I thought I was growing soft and lazy. I took a needed four months off. I struggled to get back, but it was better than before. It had a really big effect on my mental health, which I was struggling with, but at the end of the day, I do really love tennis.

In that past Australian Open I was at the stage where whatever my team told me to do, I would do it. Now it's a conversation and at the end of the day, I make the final decision. My results haven't been amazing, but what I will say is that I'm very happy on and off the court and tennis isn't the be-all ,end-all and I'm okay with that”.

Heather Watson