Marcus Willis' mum declares her son 'the Jamie Vardy of tennis'

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The mum of Britain's Wimbledon hero Marcus Willis has hailed her son as the Jamie Vardy of tennis and hopes he inspires other players never to give up.

Willis, ranked 772nd in the world, has written one of the most unlikely stories in the prestigious tournament's history after he beat world number 54 Ricardas Berankis on Monday to book a dream showdown with Roger Federer.

The 25-year-old has admitted he used to prefer partying to practice and he almost gave up professional tennis earlier this year to coach in America.

But, persuaded to keep faith by his girlfriend Jenny, Willis will now pocket ?50,000 for reaching round two at the All England Club. His previous earnings this year amounted to 292 US dollars, around ?220.

Willis' mum Cathy, a teacher in Wokingham, was among a packed-out crowd watching her son's victory on Court 17 and she hopes his rise shows other players that anything is possible.

"I always told him, 'I think you can do it' and now he's a bit older he's got the break he needed - he's like the Jamie Vardy of tennis isn't he? He certainly likes a party," Cathy told Press Association Sport.

"I would totally have understood if he had wanted to do something else, if he'd been a dustman I would have been proud of him.

"I just hope he can inspire other people to keep fighting and keep dreaming the dream because he's shown it can happen."

Willis, who had only played one other tournament this year, had to come through six consecutive matches even to qualify for the first round at Wimbledon and now he faces 17-time grand slam champion Federer, probably on Centre Court.

The British number 23 will have the support of all his family there, including mother Cathy, father James, his brother and sister Joe and Chloe, as well as girlfriend Jenny.

"I think we'll be in the player's box, I had a message from Jenny yesterday so I think we will be up there," Cathy said.

"We're going to be those people the TV zooms in on, I'm going to have be really careful, make sure I stay very polite. I'm just going to put my sunglasses on and try to look serene."

Willis would have been coaching five-year-olds at his local Warwick Boat Club on a normal Monday afternoon and, out of competition, he still lives with his mum and dad in Wokingham.

"He never washes up, he's very untidy - he's a typical boy," Cathy said.

"He goes into mum mode, 'mum can you do this? Mum can you do that?' No, but he's a good lad, he was never a horrible teenager, he's very good-natured.

"He can wash and iron his clothes himself at least, he knows how to use the washing machine. I'll make sure he has a clean shirt tomorrow.

"I think they've given him some new clothes so we're alright there - no grey socks for Marcus."

Willis' mum will have to get out of choir practice on Wednesday night - she sings for the Reading A440 Choir - but says watching her son take on Federer "should be a decent excuse."

She only just managed to find a seat for Marcus' victory over Berankis, having sat through the previous match to make sure she reserved a spot.

While her nerves were shaking, however, Willis appeared entirely at one with his new surroundings, laughing with the crowd and bobbing his head along to their chants of support.

"He was smiling from ear to ear, he's just soaking up the atmosphere at Wimbledon, he's loving it," Cathy said.

"I had a chat with him beforehand and he said 'mum, it's just fantastic to be here. I hope I don't lose too badly and let everyone down'.

"I said, 'Don't be ridiculous, just to be here is amazing.' I would have been equally as proud of him if he hadn't won."

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