In Depth

Was tennis player Gabriella Taylor poisoned at Wimbledon?

Police investigate claims 18-year-old British player was deliberately poisoned with rat urine

Gabriella Taylor was described as Britain's "last hope" in this year's Wimbledon junior championships but she was forced to retire from the tournament after being struck down with a mystery illness at the quarter-final stages.

Police are now investigating claims she was deliberately poisoned.

What happened?

The rising tennis star had already defeated Switzerland's Rebeka Masarova, the number two seed and reigning junior French Open champion, in the girls' singles competition and was playing Kayla Day of the US in the quarter-finals when she was forced to retire midway through the match.

Taylor was the only remaining British player in the junior tournament and if she had beaten Day, she would have gone on to play the competition's eventual winner, Russia's Anastasia Potapova.

How ill was she?

Taylor spent four days in intensive care at Southampton General Hospital before doctors were able to diagnose her with a rare strain of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can be transmitted through rat urine. She is yet to fully recover.

Her mother, Milena, told the Daily 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 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."

When did the police get involved?

Scotland Yard confirmed it is "investigating an allegation of poisoning with intent to endanger life", having been notified of the claims on 5 August. "It is unknown where or when the poison was ingested. The victim, an 18 year-old woman, received hospital treatment and is still recovering," it added.

According to the Telegraph, Taylor may have been targeted by an organised crime betting syndicate. "But the police investigation will also raise questions over whether she could have been the subject of a malicious plot by a rival player or coach from the fiercely competitive junior circuit," it says.

Taylor's mother says: "Her bags with her drinks in were often left unattended in the players' lounge and someone could have taken the opportunity to contaminate her drink."

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