Harriet Dart hopes to have royal support more often after recording her first ever victory at Wimbledon.
The Duchess of Cambridge made a rare visit to one of the All England Club’s outside courts to watch British number four Dart take on American lucky loser Christina McHale.
Sat between British player Katie Boulter, who is missing the tournament through injury, and Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong, the Duchess cheered on Dart, although she had left by the time the 22-year-old battled to a 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory after two hours and 19 minutes.
Dart said: “I was aware (she was there). The chair umpire mentioned it before the coin toss. It’s pretty cool to have royalty watching you. Such a privilege for me for her to get to see me play. It’s pretty surreal. Hopefully she’ll come to many more of my matches.”
Dart actually turned the match around after the Duchess had headed off to other parts of the grounds, but did not feel her presence and the interest it generated had been a distraction.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I don’t even know at which point she left. Obviously I was just aware she was there at the start.
“I think I dealt with all the conditions well. It was a bit windy out there today. Definitely towards the end, naturally I was a bit nervous to try and close it out. I think I did really well to hold myself together and get through.”
Dart, ranked 182, pushed Karolina Pliskova to three sets on her Wimbledon debut last year and had chances in the first set before being broken in the final game.
Holding serve proved tough for both women, particularly in the third set, but Dart broke a run of seven straight breaks to clinch victory and a second-round clash with either former champion Garbine Muguruza or Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Dart said of her victory: “It’s hard to kind of put it into words. I think it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It’s just feeling pretty amazing at the moment.”