Wimbledon 2017: Alex Ward, ranked 855 in the world, qualifies for main draw
|Wimbledon 2017 on the BBC|
|Venue: All England Club Dates: 3-16 July Starts: 11:30 BST|
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World number 855 Alex Ward became the only British player to come through Wimbledon singles qualifying by securing a stunning win over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Ward, 27, won 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 in the third and final round of qualifying in Roehampton.
He was given a wildcard to play in qualifying and had lost his previous seven matches before this week.
Fellow Britons Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke went out in the final round.
Ward will be one of 12 British players, led by defending champion Andy Murray and world number seven Johanna Konta, in the main singles draws at Wimbledon.
Ward, from Northampton, will take his place in the main draw at Wimbledon for only the second time, having received a wildcard 12 months ago.
Willis, 26, became the early story of last year's Wimbledon by coming through six matches in pre-qualifying and qualifying, and then the first-round proper, before losing to Roger Federer on Centre Court.
"What a story that was, let's see what happens this year," said Ward.
"We're the same age, we used to train here together and he's always been a great player and a fantastic character, always fun to be around."
Ward has taken an even more unlikely route than Willis having lost in the final round of pre-qualifying, only to be handed a wildcard into the Wimbledon qualifying event.
He had lost all four previous matches in Wimbledon qualifying.
"It just feels amazing, I'm still struggling to get my head around it," said Ward, who slipped down the rankings from 242 last year after having six months off with a wrist injury.
"It will mean everything [to return to Wimbledon], especially having qualified. I feel like I really deserve my place there."
Ward said he had played the best tennis of his life this week in beating Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, ranked 166th, Japan's Go Soeda, ranked 111th, and Gabashvili, ranked 176th.
Reaching the first-round proper guarantees him at least £35,000 in prize money.
"That's a big sum of money," said Ward.
"I haven't got a coach at the moment, so I can invest in a coach and have better preparation for matches."
He now hopes to go one better than last year, when he lost to Belgian David Goffin in the first round at Wimbledon.
"We'll see what happens in the draw on Friday," he said.