Britain’s Girl Goes Global
You wouldn’t know about the buzz around Laura Robson just by looking at her 2009 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour record. She played 19 matches and won just nine of them – not even half – but the rising British star has the attention of the tennis world, even at the tender age of 15.
For a set and a half at Wimbledon last summer, it seemed as though Robson’s story might be one of the fairy tale variety. Playing the first-ever match in the newly-built Court 2 stadium, Robson was leading tour veteran Daniela Hantuchova by a set and a break before the Slovak launched a comeback and won the match in three.
But Robson proved she’s a mature and formidable player after the match, when facing a relentless British – and global – press with poise and humor. When asked if she lost the initiative in the match, she responded by saying, “Well yeah, I was up a set and a break. Thanks for rubbing it in.”
She giggled following that response, and the press corps has only grown to love Robson more in the six months since her Wimbledon ladies’ debut.
A year prior, in 2008, the then 14-year-old made her name known to the British tennis public (and the world) by stunningly capturing the girl’s singles title at Wimbledon.
The explosion was immediate, as the British press called the teen the future of the country’s tennis institution, and though many thought she would flourish then fail, Robson has made only a steady rise on the women’s tour.
Spearheaded by her mom, Kathy, Robson’s management team has continued to mix her WTA play with junior events, and the teen won two impressive qualifying matches at the U.S. Open this summer before falling in a heart-breaking third set tiebreaker which denied her a chance at the main draw.
Full shoulders and a whipping left-handed forehand complement Robson’s solid, 5-foot-10-inch build. She regularly belts service winners – something rare on the women’s tour – and her movement and agility help make her a threat in the forecourt, as well as at the baseline.
What might continue to catapult Robson up the rankings is her left-handed swing, something no woman in the Top 20 currently has. Pair her lefty spin with big serves out wide and a booming forehand, and Robson could be a Top 50 player by year’s end.
Currently, the Londoner sits just outside the Top 400 of the WTA rankings with just ten tournaments to account for in 2009. But as Robson plays more main-draw matches at the pro level, the buzz around her is sure to grow only louder.
She’s one teen making noise on court because of her play, not her grunts.
Nick McCarvel is a freelance writer who blogs about tennis at www.tennischatter.blogspot.com.