EXCLUSIVE: Robson aiming to make her own Jubilee tribute and continue Britain's feel good summer
14:41 GMT, 24 June 2012
Laura Robson has a bone to pick with Stevie Wonder. And it concerns the Queen.
‘I couldn’t understand why Stevie Wonder was singing Happy Birthday,’ she says through a smirk. ‘It wasn’t her birthday. He didn’t even call her “Your Majesty”, he said “Your Honour”.’
Robson is, of course, talking about the Jubilee Weekend concert, a jaw-dropping starter to what could be a very feel good summer for Britain.
Ready to go: Laura Robson will break into the top 100 ahead of Wimbledon
Now it’s, Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, and the Olympics three weeks later, both of which Robson is hoping to do well in. After missing the Jubilee, at least she gets to be part of the action this time.
‘I love the Queen but I was in Nottingham so I missed out, which was a shame because they had a street party in my road. I couldn’t join in on that so I watched it on TV with Naomi Broady (the British No 6) and we were both getting really emotional.
‘I didn’t really watch the river thing. I watched the highlights — if you can really call them that — but the concert was better. It was really lovely when Prince Charles made his speech. Didn’t you find it a little bit emotional’
Happy Birthday Robson was unsure why Stevie Wonder sang Happy Birthday at the Jubilee
Special speech: Robson was a fan of the concert and Prince Charles' address to The Queen
The answer to that will remain a secret but Robson’s progress since she won her first match at Wimbledon a year ago is there for all to see.
Since beating now world No 8 Angelique Kerber and running Maria Sharapova close, Robson has started to fulfil the potential which saw her win Junior Wimbledon four years ago.
On Monday she will break into the world’s top 100 for the first time and become British No 2. At 18, she is the highest-ranked teenager in the world and she is only two weeks older than Andy Murray was when he first broke into the world’s top 100.
After the usual teenage pains of growth spurts and the accompanying injuries, she is fully fit. She looks it too and has clearly improved her fitness and movement, something that has been highlighted as a weakness in the past.
Feel good summer: Robson wants to extend the positive mood in the country
‘There hasn’t been a massive change,’ she says, immediately more serious when discussing her job. ‘It’s been a gradual improvement. I’ve worked a lot on my fitness and being more explosive on court and it has paid off. It can obviously still get better but it’s a work in progress.’
To watch her play, Robson doesn’t look far off some players ranked a lot higher than her. Her serve is big and her groundstrokes powerful. But, like many younger players, it is the mental side of the game she will take longest to master.
Time to shine: Robson claims she does not get recognised when she is out and about outside of tennis
Whereas 10-15 years ago the vogue was for younger women to prosper — Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova all won Grand Slam titles before they were 21 — it is now the relatively older players who are more often than not succeeding. Just two of the last 16 Grand Slam champions have been under the age of 27.
Robson, who plays Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in the first round at Wimbledon, has time, she is continue improving and, like fellow Brit Heather Watson, is making efforts not to show her emotions too much on court when things aren’t going to plan.
‘Like anyone, I get frustrated when I miss a shot I feel I should have made,’ she adds. ‘I’m just not as good at holding in at what I want to say. I really enjoyed myself at Eastbourne, though, and loved it being so competitive. I like trying to work out what I can do on each point to put the other girl under more pressure.
New kids on the block: Robson and fellow Brit Heather Watson are the new hopes for British tennis
‘The top 20 or 30 girls are really experienced at closing out matches and playing important points — they know where they want to serve, for example. But when I go out to serve at deuce I’m thinking “I could serve here, I could serve there”. The more experienced you get, the more you know how you want to play tactically.’
Robson’s win over Kerber at Wimbledon last year was her first at the Championships but what has happened to the German since is enough to provide Robson with plenty of inspiration. Kerber is now the world No 8 after a stunning year and among the favourites to win at SW19, something that has not gone unnoticed.
‘Kerber more or less came out of nowhere to make the US Open semis and has really backed that up,’ says Robson. ‘She’s done so well. It gives me a lot of confidence. But I’ve still got a lot of things I can improve on and I don’t want to stop at the top 100. I want to be top 50, top 20. I feel really lucky to be in the draw again.’
The future is bright: Robson is hoping to climb the rankings
With the wildcard that put her in the draw of course comes Wimbledon prizemoney: a minimum of 14,500, some of which can surely be allowed to go on her favourite activity.
‘Shopping. There was a Harvey Nichols 50-per-cent-off sale in Birmingham last week. I went in there and literally the whole shoe section was only tennis players. Elena Vesnina (Russia’s world No 83) was trying on four pairs I think. We all love our shopping. Also, people generally don’t recognise me when I’m not sweaty — that’s why I dress up.’
A good Wimbledon and you feel even that disguise won’t work for much longer
Laura Robson is a global ambassador for Wilson Racquet Sports, for more information visit www.wilson.com