Talia Neilson Gatenby’s maiden Wimbledon win was extra special after the disappointment of missing out on last year’s Championships.

Neilson Gatenby, who trains at the LTA’s National Academy in Loughborough, beat Nina Vargova 6-4 6-4 to start her campaign at the All England Club in fine style.

The 16-year-old, who qualified for the Wimbledon junior event after a run to the final of the 18 & Under Junior National at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton in April, was ready to play at the tournament last year, though an unfortunate injury left her watching along on the sidelines.

“I tore two ligaments in my ankle, so I was on crutches for a while - so I couldn’t play,” she said.

“I wanted to play for so long and being so close to playing, and then injury kicking in, it was definitely hard, especially watching all of my friends play here last year. 

“Hopefully I’ve made up for it now by getting a win.”

Twelve months on from her disappointment it was a superb victory for Neilson Gatenby, breaking in the final game of both sets to beat her Slovakian opponent. 

She added: “I feel pretty speechless. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play here at Wimbledon, especially after not being able to play last year. There was definitely a lot of fight in me after not playing last year. 

“The crowd as well was really nice. My family and friends were there. It was a good day - I’m happy.

“After match point it was just goosebumps. Honestly, I can’t even describe it. It was amazing. The feeling was incredible, it’s just unforgettable - my first win at Wimbledon!

“The nerves didn’t actually kick in until I started my warm-up. Before then I was quite relaxed, one of the last players on, so I had quite a while to wait, which for me helps, being able to chill throughout the day.”

Neilson Gatenby now faces tenth seed Annabelle Xu in the second round, though the 16-year-old is not putting any pressure on herself during her maiden campaign at the All England Club.

She said: “My goal for my tournament was just to enjoy it and just embrace the opportunity I’ve been given. 

“There’s no goals in terms of outcomes but my main goal is to try as hard as I can and enjoy it.”

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