Police investigate alleged poisoning of British tennis player at Wimbledon

Gabriella Taylor

Scotland Yard is investigating allegations that a British tennis player who was forced to retire from competing in this year’s Wimbledon tournament was deliberately poisoned.

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Britain’s last representative in the tournament’s juniors competition, Gabriella Taylor, pulled out of her quarter-final in July because of a virus, ending her hopes of a first grand-slam title.

The 18-year-old spent several days in intensive care in hospital in Southampton suffering from an unknown disease before it was later diagnosed as leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by animals.

Scotland Yard confirmed on Wednesday that it was carrying out an investigation into the allegations of poisoning “with intent to endanger life / cause GBH”.

The allegation of poisoning was received by officers on 5 August, according to the force, which said that the incident took place at an address in Wimbledon between 1 and 10 July.

A police statement, which did not name Taylor, said: “The victim was taken ill on 6 July. It is unknown where or when the poison was ingested. The victim, an 18-year-old woman, received hospital treatment and is still recovering. No arrests, inquiries continue.”

Taylor had been trailing against her American opponent, Kayla Day, during her quarter-final when she sat down in her chair and, after a brief consultation with the umpire, decided she was unable to carry on.

The teenager had thought that she was a victim of food poisoning earlier in the week, a declaration that had tournament officials checking whether any other players had been affected.

Taylor tweeted pictures of herself on a tennis court on Wednesday and said that she was happy to be back on court as she continued with her recovery.

Her parents, Paul and Milena, were quoted in the Daily Telegraph saying that their daughter had been in “very good shape physically” before the tournament earlier this year. Her mother said: “She was totally healthy and playing very well. She was full of confidence and was looking forward to getting the title; that was her dream. Everything was going well. She got to the quarter-final but then the next thing she is lying in intensive care close to death. When the infection team explained what it was we could not believe it.”

A spokesperson for Wimbledon was quoted as saying that the All England Lawn Tennis Club had not been approached about the investigation. “There is no record of Miss Taylor using her catering pass to eat on site at the championships in 2016,” they added.

Detectives from the Met were reported to have visited the family at their home in Southampton and took away some of the player’s water bottles for forensic analysis.

Taylor had been the last domestic hope standing after eight British juniors were eliminated from the tournament at the second-round stage in July.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Quinn, for The Guardian on Thursday 11th August 2016 00.25 Europe/London

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