Exclusive: London 2012 is the reason why I haven’t hung up my racket yet claims Keothavong
By Tom Degun in London
June 18 - Anne Keothavong (pictured), the former long-standing British number one women’s tennis player, has claimed that the incentive of playing at London 2012 Olympic Games prevented her from retirement.
Keothavong, who is currently the British number three behind Elena Baltacha and Katie O’Brien after an injury forced her to take time away from the sport and drop down the rankings, is currently putting the finishing touches on her preparations for Wimbledon which begins next week.
Keothavong is one of six British women in the draw hoping to reach the latter stages of the competition but the 26-year-old from Hackney in London admits that she is already thinking ahead to competing at London 2012.
Keothavong told insidethegames: "The London 2012 Olympics are the reason why are I’m still playing tennis and why I haven’t hung up my racket yet.
"I missed out on the Beijing 2008 Olympics which I was really upset about so my one main goal now is to be on the Olympic team.
"If I can stay injury free and keep doing what I am doing then I’m sure that I’ll make it.
"I’ve competed at all of the biggest tournaments in the world so it’s just the Olympics that I’ve got left!"
The current world number 157, who has been as high as number 48 before her injury, admits that the Olympic Games is not always viewed as the most important event in tennis but stated that it is now the most important event to her.
She said: "On a personal level, it would mean the world to me to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.
"Maybe the Olympics haven’t always been the biggest thing on the calendar for every tennis player but it comes around once every four years and that makes it really special.
"I can only speak for myself and I know it would mean huge amount for me to represent Great Britain at London 2012."
The London 2012 Olympic tennis event will be hosted at the prestigious All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon and Keothavong admits that it will be rather strange competing at Wimbledon at the 2012 Olympics just weeks after the 2012 edition of the Championships take place.
She said: "It is going to be a bit weird coming straight back to Wimbledon for the Olympics when the Championships have just finished especially when everything is going on in East London and the tennis will be at Wimbledon.
"But to be honest, I don’t really care too much about that as I just want to be on the team and representing Great Britain."
Keothavong also revealed that she is passionate about getting young people involved in tennis and in sport in general.
Speaking at the Mini Tennis East London Finals, a qualifier for the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games, Keothavong claimed that the event is great way to get young people into the sport and find potential British champions of the future.
Keothavong said: "I have fond memories of the London Youth Games as it is an event I won as a youngster.
"It’s just great to see so many kids coming to this event though and getting involved in sport which will help them lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
"It’s a good starting point no matter whether you go on to be an elite player or just want to play for fun.
"That is why the London 2012 Olympics will be brilliant as well as they will get so many kids involved in sport and also promote what a great city London is.
"People criticise the lack of depth in British tennis but projects like the London Youth Games and events like the 2012 Olympics will inspire children to play tennis and potentially help to unearth a future British champion.
"But perhaps more importantly, they will get kids away from their computer games and participating in sport."
To find out more about the London Youth Games click here.