One former tennis star says discussing menstruation is “the last taboo in women’s sports.”
Watson, currently the top women’s player in Britain, lost in the first round of the of this year’s Australian Open on Tuesday after feeling sick and calling for a doctor.
Watson, 22, later said that she was suffering from side effects of her period, and she was going to consult with a doctor to prevent this from affecting her play in the future.
“I think it’s just one of these things that I have, girl things,” she told the BBC. “It just happens.”
Watson’s remarks drew immediate praise from some in the women’s tennis community, who said the effect of periods on a female athlete’s performance is a common problem that is rarely discussed.
Annabel Croft, a former British tennis champion, called the topic the “last taboo in female sports.”
“Women dealing with these issues at any time is hard enough, but actually trying to go out there and play high-level sport… it’s just really unlucky,” Croft told the BBC’s Radio 5.
Tara Moore, another British tennis player, told The Telegraph that she also struggles with balancing her menstrual cycle and her professional career, saying she mostly just hopes her tournaments don’t line up with it.
Moore said she has nightmares about bleeding through her uniform during Wimbledon, where all players must wear white.
“If something like that happens it’s mortifying — it’s a nightmare,” she said.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to the United States Tennis Association for comment on this issue.