London, Great Britain, 27 June 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Max Purcell and Zoe Hives are among four Australian players making their main draw singles debuts at Wimbledon this week.

The 24-year-old Purcell has previously played doubles at the All England Club – but the world No.209 is excited to now get his chance to shine on the singles court too.

“It feels like I’m kind of here for the first time, you know, because doubles it great and I guess it gets you into all the big tournaments if you’re doing well at it,” said Purcell, who earned his place in this year’s singles draw as a qualifier.

“But no one watches a tennis match when they’re five years old and goes ‘I can’t wait to be a doubles player’. You know, you want to be the best singles player you can be. So being here for singles, it is a dream come true. Tennis’s first surface was grass so I think doing it here at Wimbledon is really special.”

Purcell faces No.86-ranked Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the opening round today.

> READ: Duckworth excited for Centre Court debut at Wimbledon

Hives has a tough draw in her debut, pitted against world No.5 Maria Sakkari of Greece.

The 25-year-old from Kingston in regional Victoria surprised even herself by qualifying for the main draw.

“I didn’t think that was going to happen at all,” admitted Hives. “I think that was probably what helped me though as well. Just went out last week and just (thought) like ‘yeah, just going to enjoy it. Just going to do my best and see how I go’.”

Hives is currently ranked No.571 and used a protected ranking of No.142 to enter the qualifying competition. This is only her seventh tournament in a comeback from illness, after glandular fever then POTS (Postural tachycardia syndrome) sidelined her for more than two years.

“When I got the diagnosis, I couldn’t go for a five-minute walk. That was too much for me,” Hives explained of the impact of POTS.

“I’d go for a walk and I’d have to sit on the ground for like 10 minutes just to recover from that.”

It meant Hives experienced a frustrating and arduous journey to return to professional tennis.

“I made sure that I took it really slow, made sure I took a step by step and didn’t push myself too early,” she said. “But yeah, it’s obviously worked out.”

A Wimbledon debut, which marks Hives’ first Grand Slam main draw appearance since reaching the second round as a wildcard at Australian Open 2019, is a special reward.

“I didn’t play juniors here, so I’ve never been here before. The whole experience is kind of overwhelming, but in a good way,” said Hives. “It’s been amazing just to see it all and just to experience it.”

> READ: Daria Saville determined to make most of Wimbledon wildcard

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