Katie Boulter eyes world’s top 10 as she bids to continue rapid rise

Katie Boulter has her sights set on the world’s top 10 and is hoping her success can help inspire more female coaches in tennis.

The 27-year-old is enjoying the best period of her career, having soared from outside the top 150 to a high of 27 in the rankings in less than a year, winning WTA Tour titles in Nottingham and San Diego along the way.

Previously, Boulter’s trajectory had been a story of periodic highs amid long spells out of the game through injury and struggles to break through the lower levels of the sport.

Now she is a clear British number one and will be seeded at a grand slam for the first time at the French Open beginning on Sunday.

But Boulter is keen to stress her ambitions do not end here, telling the PA news agency: “When I was 150, I think it was actually tougher to be motivated. After Nottingham last year, I really don’t think I’ve ever been more hungry to succeed.

“Of course I’m happy and I’m doing well and I’m getting closer to where I want to be, but I genuinely think I have a chance of being inside the top 10, I think my game can be there, so I struggle to be satisfied sitting at 27 in the world.

“It’s great I’ve got that number by my name and no one can take that away from me, but I want more.”

Boulter’s San Diego success was a real statement, with the Leicestershire player defeating five top-40 players to win a WTA 500 level event for the first time, while it meant a double celebration in her household after boyfriend Alex De Minaur lifted the ATP trophy in Acapulco the same week.

Boulter, who is a brand ambassador for Lexus, added: “It is also my duty to myself to say, ‘Hold on, let’s pause for one second. I won San Diego, a 500, that’s an unbelievable achievement’, and to remind myself that is my level.

“I’ve got to bank it and not shy away from it and enjoy the moment as well. We actually just bought a new trophy cabinet at home and I’m going to put my trophy there and I’m going to put Alex’s trophy there and I think that’ll be a moment for me where I go, ‘Wow, that actually happened’.”

Greater physical durability has been at the heart of Boulter’s rise, but another key factor has been her partnership with coach Biljana Veselinovic.

Female coaches remain a rarity even on the women’s tour and one of the headlines from Boulter’s San Diego final victory over Marta Kostyuk was that both players are coached by women.

“Having a female coach is something I’ve not really had before, besides my mum,” said Boulter. “It’s a very positive environment. She’s very caring, very motherly and sometimes in the tough moments that can really help you.

“I would love to see more of it. Even the other day I saw one of the guys working with a female fitness coach and I love to see it. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have that. It’s great for our sport. It does help on the WTA Tour, I really think that.”

Travel and unsociable hours make the job difficult to combine with a family life, but Boulter believes Veselinovic can be an inspiration by helping to show the way.

“During Miami, Biljana had a female coach shadowing her, which was great to see,” said Boulter.

“They’re trying to push more women into those environments, which is awesome. The more time you can spend in it, the more you can get comfortable in that environment – it can be probably quite daunting.

“I think it’s very important to have people who are role models and can show the path. Billie’s been amazing with that, she has always been willing to help and I think that’s where she’s a true leader.”

A new challenge for Boulter this season has been properly tackling clay, with the 27-year-old remarkably having not played a tour level match on the surface until last month’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against France.

She teamed up with Emma Raducanu to earn Great Britain victory and a place in the finals event in November and also reached the quarter-finals of the WTA 125 tournament in Paris last week.

Boulter remains much more comfortable on grass and hard courts but is willing to give clay a proper go.

“I stayed as far away from it as possible because of my body,” she said. “I didn’t want to add any other aspects in that would change things for me.

“Probably not many people know this, but during Covid I decided to spend the majority of my time playing on clay. I wanted to get comfortable on it.

“It’s something very fresh for me and, having been playing on tour for quite a while, you don’t get that many weeks where you haven’t been to tournaments before.

“I think where my success has come from is finding different ways to win rather than just using the power that I have and that’s one of the biggest things on clay. I do really feel like I can play well on it. I’ve just got to be patient with myself.”

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