Norfolk tennis star 'excited' after Wimbledon wildcard

Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett tennis players

Olivia Nicholls, 27, from Acle, pictured on the left, will appear at Wimbledon this year with her doubles partner, Alicia Barnett, pictured on the right, after getting a wildcard entry to the tournament. - Credit: Getty Images

A Norfolk tennis player has spoken of her excitement after bagging a wildcard entry to this year’s Wimbledon doubles tournament.  

Olivia Nicholls, 27, and her partner Alicia Barnett will take to the famous grass at the All England Club when the championship begins later this month.  

It will be the first time a member of Acle Tennis Club takes part in what is considered the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.  

Ms Nicholls said: "We had a feeling we had a good chance of getting the wildcard. We've had a good year. 

“Our rating was putting us close to getting in without a wild card anyway.” 

Norfolk tennis player Olivia Nicholls in action.

Norfolk tennis player Olivia Nicholls in action at a tournament in 2014. - Credit: Archant

Ms Nicholls and the 28-year-old Ms Barnett, from Gloucestershire, are ranked 110th and 102nd in the world for doubles tennis. 

In March this year they reached their first final in their debut World Tennis Association (WTA) event, when they finished as runners-up in the Lyon Open.  

In the final they played against Vera Zvonereva, the former world number two, and her partner Anna Seigmund, who together had won the US Open in 2020. 

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Their performance propelled them to number three and number five in the UK. 

Entry to Wimbledon via wildcard has prompted comparisons to Emma Raducanu, who reached the fourth round of the tournament last year and later won the US Open, but Ms Nicholls said they were focussing on their own game.

Norfolk tennis players taking part in the Aegon British Tour tournament at Easton College. Olivia Ni

Olivia Nicholls, pictured here in 2014, is not thinking about comparisons to Emma Raducanu after getting a wildcard entry to Wimbledon this year. - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

"We try to not have too high expectations but I believe we can compete with the best girls in the world," she said.

Ms Nicholls has been playing tennis since she was four-years-old, training at Acle Tennis Club where her mother Ann Nicholls is head coach.  

She attended Acle Primary School, Acle High School (now Acle Academy) and East Norfolk Sixth Form College, before studying Sports Science with Management at Loughborough University, where she continued playing tennis. 

She went professional in 2017. 

Liz Lake, secretary and assistant coach at Acle Tennis Club, said: "We're all very excited by it. Olivia has played here since she was four years old. We've followed her career. We're very pleased for her."

She mentioned Warren Sawyer, who coached Ms Nicholls. 

And when asked about the comparison with Ms Raducanu, Ms Lake said: "Who knows? If things go right on the day, who knows?"