(Ex England international singles player)
I represented England fourteen times, the first time in 1999 against China, and
played in four Uber Cup teams and one Uber Cup final, two European Championships
and two World Championships and I was part of the bronze medal winning team in the
Sudirman Cup in Glasgow in 2007.
In individual tournaments I won the European Badminton Circuit in 2007 and qualified
for the European Circuit finals in 2009. I have reached more than thirty semi-finals
in European Circuit tournaments, finalist at the Czech Open 2002, Scottish Open
2004, Toulouse Open 2009 and I won the Iceland Open 1998, Geneva International 2001,
Slovenian Open 2003, Welsh Open 2007 and the Portuguese Open 2009.
I have played in twelve Yonex All England Championships, which is my favourite tournament,
my local tournament in fact.
My greatest achievement and memory has to be winning the English National title
in 2009. It was one of my proudest moments as my family and friends were there to
witness it. The victory was even greater due to the fact I had lost in 3 previous
I work full time at Land Rover as a component test engineer during the day. I am
a qualified Level 2 badminton coach and therefore coach part time in the evenings
and sometimes weekends, I do this as I love the sport and feel I have a lot to offer
the youngsters coming through.
I retired from international competition at the end of 2009 and at the end of the
2010/2011 season I retired from playing county due to me reaching my goal of 100
1st team caps for Warwickshire, an achievement that no other female player has done
in Warwickshire – I ended the season on 102 caps.
Earliest Sporting Memory:
Coventry City Football Club winning the FA Cup in 1987. I was nine and the whole
of the City celebrated their success during the run up to the final and after the
final. I remember standing with my family in town waiting for the open top bus to
come along with the team and then queuing at their training ground to see the cup
and have my photo taken with it. The whole city buzzed with excitement, it was just
Athletics, football, golf and tennis, but to be honest I will watch most sports,
Badminton, golf, squash, table tennis and tennis.
Why a life in sport, or if not, what would you have done?
I would have always have done something in sport as I come from a sporty family.
The encouragement came from my mum who was a good hockey player and my dad who was
a good footballer and then when they gave up their respective sports they took up
squash. I played in all the sports teams at school, except Netball, and at junior
school I even played football after pestering the Head teacher to allow me to do
it. He said if I got myself some proper football boots then he would let me, so
I saved my pocket money, brought some boots and joined the school team. I even got
involved in a Coventry City Football Club development programme, but had to give
it up when I started playing badminton.
The badminton came about when I joined a summer camp at the local Racquets Centre.
We played tennis, badminton, squash and table tennis and at the end of the two week
course, my parents suggested my sister and I choose our favourite and have some
coaching. We both chose badminton and we’ve been playing ever since.
If I hadn’t played badminton I am sure I would have done something else in sport,
but my mum does say I would have made a great actress as at times I am a bit of
a drama queen, and I can also tell a great story.
Toughest part of your sporting life:
Making the decision to work full time and buying a house or playing professional
badminton. Looking back I definitely made the right decision as I have no regrets,
but it was very hard at times.
Most memorable sporting moment:
Winning the 2009 English National Singles Championship because I had lost in three
previous finals and I knew deep down that it could possibly be my last chance to
Worst sporting moment:
Losing to my sister at the Penstowe Holiday Park Tournament when I was 10 years-old.
I was devastated and she still winds me up about it today because she has never
beaten me again!
Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras (tennis) and Susi Susanti (badminton).
Favourite venue and why?
I have two favourite venues and can’t choose between them.
The first is the National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham where the Yonex All England
is played. I just love the NIA and have always played well there and the fact that
it is local so my friends and family can come along and watch is a bonus.
The second venue is the Velodrome in Manchester where the Nationals have been played
for the last few years. The event is so well run and the arena is also great to
play in, and of course I have lots of great memories from this venue.
Sporting event you would pay the most to see:
Coventry City Football Club in the FA Cup Final. I missed it the first time!
And to miss:
Any event to do with Cricket. Sorry Mum – it was my Grandad’s favourite sport he
played and watched – apparently he was obsessed.
Question asked most often by the public:
How did you fit it all in (working full time and playing international badminton)?
And the answer:
I love my work and I love badminton and to do both I had to be very organised and
make a lot of sacrifices so I can be the best I can at both. It has meant going
to bed early and getting up at the crack of dawn, having a limited social life,
using my holidays for tournaments, and probably training as many hours as the full-time
players in my spare time outside of work.
We have only one life but lots of opportunities. Taking advantage of those opportunities
is up to each and everyone of us as individuals. If you work hard enough you can
achieve your dream.
Who would you most like to invite to dinner and why?
Laughter is one of the best tonics in life so I would invite Ant and Dec because
I think they would be a right laugh.
Most influential people in my badminton career?
There are too many to name but Lorraine Cole has always believed in me and without
her help over the years I would have struggled to compete at the level I did.
Jill Pittard CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
Date of Birth: 5th November 1977
Place of Birth: Coventry, England
Place of Residence: Coventry, England
Highest World Ranking: No.28 (12th May 2005)
Highest National Ranking: No.1
England debut aged 20 v China (England v China friendly match) in 1997
Caps: 14 (final appearance v (Holland) in (Holland), (February 2008)
Sudirman Cup World Team Championships:
2007 Bronze Medal
Four Uber Cup Teams:
2000 (Bulgaria), 2004 (Slovakia), 2006 (Greece) – silver medal & 2008 (Holland)
Uber Cup final (2006) in Japan
Two European Championships:
2004 (Switzerland) & 2006 (Holland)
Two World Championships:
2003 in Birmingham – 1st round lost to number 8 seed
2007 in Malaysia– 1st round lost to number 16 seed
European Badminton Circuit:
2007 winner & qualified for 2009 finals
Semi-finalist in over thirty European Circuit tournaments
Finalist: Czech Open 2002, Scottish Open 2004 & Toulouse Open 2009
Winner: Iceland Open 1998, Geneva International 2001, Slovenian Open 2003, Welsh
Open 2007 & Portuguese Open 2009
English National Championships
Women’s Singles Winner
Women’s Singles Runner-up
2000, 2006 & 2007