Wim­ble­don ‘Poi­son­ing’ of Teenage Ten­nis Star Gabriella Tay­lor

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Gabriella Tay­lor col­lapsed in the quar­ter­fi­nals. Now po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether some­one gave her a deadly bac­te­ria. Was a jeal­ous ri­val or a shady bet­ting syn­di­cate to blame?

It is sup­posed to be the epit­ome of sport­ing gen­til­ity and fair play, a fes­ti­val of Bri­tish­ness awash with noth­ing more sin­is­ter than lemon bar­ley water and over­priced straw­ber­ries. How­ever, a light is be­ing shone on the darker side of Bri­tish ten­nis af­ter an al­le­ga­tion that a ris­ing fe­male ten­nis star was poi­soned dur­ing last month’s Wim­ble­don lawn ten­nis cham­pi­onships.

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sus­pi­cious way in which Bri­tish player Gabriella Tay­lor was struck down by a rare virus usu­ally trans­mit­ted via rat urine amidst sus­pi­cions she was de­lib­er­ately tar­get­ted.

Tay­lor be­came so un­well so rapidly that she was forced to with­draw from the tour­na­ment in the midst of her quar­ter­fi­nal match in the ju­nior tour­na­ment.

Had she won, she would only have been one match away from the fi­nal, lead­ing po­lice to investigate the pos­si­bil­ity that she was poi­soned by a jeal­ous player, a ri­val coach, or a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a crooked in­ter­na­tional bet­ting syn­di­cate. The Daily Tele­graph re­ported on Thurs­day that although medics ini­tially sus­pected she had con­tracted a virus while play­ing over­seas, they even­tu­ally di­ag­nosed a rare strain of lep­tospiro­sis, a bac­te­ria that can be trans­mit­ted through rat urine.

Tay­lor’s mother, Milena, told the Tele­graph: “Be­fore the tour­na­ment, she was in very good shape phys­i­cally. 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 quar­ter­fi­nal, 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 Scot­land Yard spokesman said: “Merton po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing an al­le­ga­tion of poi­son­ing with in­tent to en­dan­ger life or cause [griev­ous bod­ily harm].

“The al­le­ga­tion was re­ceived by of­fi­cers on Au­gust 5 with the in­ci­dent al­leged to have taken place at an ad­dress in Wim­ble­don be­tween July 1-10.

“The vic­tim was taken ill on July 6. It is un­known where or when the poi­son was in­gested. The vic­tim, an 18-year-old woman, re­ceived hos­pi­tal treat­ment and is still re­cov­er­ing.”

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