Burrowed away in the family album is a reminder of Gabriella Taylor’s first starry-eyed encounter with Wimbledon icons.
‘I was seven years old,’ she says with a grin. ‘I won a regional tournament and then a national event. The prize was an all-star event in Trafalgar Square. So there I was in front of the crowds, knocking it around with Boris Becker and Tim Henman.
‘I started [playing] when I was four years old at the local David Lloyd [Club]. My mum played tennis at university and my dad played squash so maybe there was something in the genes.
Gabriella Taylor is preparing to play in the women's singles event at Wimbledon
Taylor has always had dreams of playing at SW19 and that dream is about to become reality
Taylor (pictured here at the Southsea Trophy in Portsmouth) will play Eugenie Bouchard
'As a kid, I used to ski a lot, too. I was on the black piste when I was seven in the Bulgarian mountains. I know Novak Djokovic is a big skier too but I gave it up when I was 12 because the tennis became more serious. It would always be tennis for me.’
At 13 she left home to train in Marbella and, this week at Wimbledon, 20-year-old Taylor seeks to confirm her status as one of the breakthrough stars of British tennis.
Born to Bulgarian mother Milena and Geordie father Paul, Taylor, who grew up in Southampton, arrives at Wimbledon in splendid form.
Taylor took part in an exclusive photoshoot with Sportsmail photographer Graham Chadwick
The 20-year-old wants to confirm her status as one of the breakthrough stars of British tennis
Since she began training with coaches Xavier Budo and David Sunyer last autumn, her ranking has shot up from 323 to a peak of 168 and she has been handed a wildcard entry to Wimbledon.
‘Wimbledon is the most incredible tournament in the world,’ says Taylor. ‘It’s the tradition, the support, the atmosphere. Growing up, I loved watching Justine Henin. She was an all-rounder, very aggressive but also very smart. Since then, it’s been about Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.
'Serena’s grit on the court ... she can be down on the score but never gives in. She has all my respect. It would be a dream to have her on the other side of