BRITISH No 2 Heather Watson believes rising star Gabi Taylor deserves a Wimbledon wildcard.

Watson witnessed Taylor’s progress first-hand at the Surbiton Trophy last week, when she was beaten 6-3, 4-6, 3-6 by the 20 year-old from Shirley.

Taylor was given a first wildcard for a full WTA tournament at the Nottingham Open this week.

She lost her first-round tie to defending champion Donna Vekic, the world No 42, 5-7 7-5 6-7 (3/7) on Tuesday.

But Watson believes she and other young British women are more deserving of wildcards than former finalists whose careers are on a downward curve.

Wildcards are given to players outside the world’s top 100 and Taylor is now at 168, an incredible rise of 155 places in six months.

Watson, a Fed Cup teammate of Taylor’s, said: “I absolutely think that the British girls coming up would deserve the wild cards over somebody who hasn’t done much in the last couple of years.

“It would be great to give the young ones that experience of playing in their home grand-slam. I know when I was given one at 18 for Wimbledon I gained a huge amount from it.”

Wildcards are usually offered on the basis of past performance at Wimbledon so the likes of Vera Zvonareva, Sabine Lisicki and Eugenie Bouchard – runners-up in 2010, 2013 and 2014 respectively – will all be in contention.

They are ranked 137, 158 and 194 respectively.

But wildcards are also issued to increase British interest and there is no doubt that Taylor’s inclusion in the main draw would do just that - as would the inclusion of the likes of Katie Swan (216), Katie Boulter (156), Harriet Dart (198), Katy Dunne (215) and Naomi Broady (122).

A place in the world’s top 250 used to be enough for a British wildcard but since 2015 they have been selected on a case-by-case basis, with factors including recent form taken into account.

That should stand Taylor in good stead when the All England Club’s committee announces its decision next Wednesday.

She plays in the Ilkley Trophy next week and the Southsea Trophy a week later. Wimbledon’s main draw begins on July 2 with a windfall of £39,000 for first-round losers.