Scotland Yard has begun a criminal investigation after allegations that somebody may have poisoned a young British tennis star ahead of her quarterfinals match with an American opponent in the Wimbledon Girls’ Singles Tennis Championships back in July.
You are an 18-year old tennis fanatic. It’s your life. It dominates your thoughts. It dominates your dreams. You play, sleep, eat, play, sleep. You are given a wildcard into the Wimbledon Girls’ Singles Tennis Championships. You make the quarterfinals. The night before you feel like your body is shutting down. You compete the following day. You can’t finish the match. You retire. It should have been the most glorious day of your life. It turns into the biggest disaster.
Gabriella Taylor is that 18-year old.
The British pro, ranked 381 in the world, had to withdraw from her quarterfinals match against the American Kayla Day, due to illness.
It’s a sob story.
But what’s the connection with gambling?
A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to spend the day at the eSports Betting Summit in London. It was a day for the eSports and gambling communities to educate each other on the perils of match-fixing, doping, and cheating in eSports.
During the tea break, I got talking to some sportsbook operators about cheating in sports in general, and the unified view was that tennis was the sport that was more susceptible to cheating than any other. The sports betting integrity outfit ESSA supports this view stating that the number of suspicious alerts has grown from four in 2010 to around 90 in 2015, with tennis taking up the largest quota.
And this takes us back to poor Gabriella Taylor, because after withdrawing from her match with Kayla Day, she ended up in the hospital where she spent four days in intensive care suffering multiple organ failures.
Too much Pimms?
Too many strawberries?
It seems not.
Doctors investigating her case revealed that she was suffering from a rare strain of Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease most commonly passed on by rat urine. Symptoms involve flu, headaches, chills, and in severe cases organ failure and internal bleeding.
So how does a young British girl catch Leptospirosis?
Answers on a postcard to Scotland Yard because they are currently investigating the incident as ‘suspicious’. Merton Police told the press that allegations surfaced on August 5 that Taylor was deliberately poisoned. A gambling syndicate, opposing player or coach, or Game of Thrones Grand Maester Pycelle are the potential culprits.
Health experts told The Telegraph that it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the tennis star contracted the illness ‘deliberately’, but both the player and her mother are moving forward with the investigation.
Detectives have confiscated drinking bottles used by Taylor during the competition for forensic examination. Taylor is still not back to full training after large pieces of flesh peeled away from her feet during her illness. Her quarterfinal opponent, Kayla Day, was also ill for a fortnight when she returned to California with flu-like symptoms.
The case continues.