Laura Robson (born 21 January 1994) is a British tennis player. She debuted on the ITF Junior Circuit in 2007, and a year later won the Junior Wimbledon championships at the age of 14. As a junior, she also twice reached the final of the girls’ singles tournament at the Australian Open, in 2009 and 2010. She won her first tournament on the ITF Women’s Circuit in November 2008.
In singles tennis, Robson was the first British woman since Samantha Smith at Wimbledon in 1998 to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament, doing so at the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. At the 2012 Guangzhou Women’s Open, Robson became the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1990 to reach a WTA Tour final, where she lost to Hsieh Su-wei. She was named WTA Newcomer of the Year for 2012 and reached a career-high singles ranking of world No. 27 the following year.
In doubles, she won a silver medal in the mixed-doubles competition at the 2012 London Olympics playing with Andy Murray, with whom she also reached the 2010 Hopman Cup final. She has a career-high doubles ranking of No. 82 (July 2013).
Robson suffered from various injuries throughout the 2014 and 2015 seasons, notably to her left (and dominant) wrist for which she underwent surgery in April 2014, resulting in multiple prolonged absences from the WTA Tour. She dropped out of the world rankings in early 2015, returning at No. 906 in July 2015. Since returning to full-time tennis in January 2016 post-injury, Robson struggled with form and has not returned to the top 150 in singles tennis. In July 2018, she underwent hip surgery, and has been inactive on the WTA Tour ever since.
Robson was born on 21 January 1994 in Melbourne, the third child of Australian parents Andrew, an oil executive with Royal Dutch Shell, and Kathy Robson, a sports coach and former professional basketball player. Robson and her family moved from Melbourne to Singapore when she was 18 months old, where she attended Tanglin Trust School and then to the United Kingdom when she was six.
According to her parents, she began playing tennis “as soon as she could hold a tennis racquet”, and after being encouraged by them, she entered a junior tennis academy at age seven. She signed with management company Octagon when she was ten, with Adidas at age 11, and also signed a racquet deal with Wilson Sporting Goods.
After working with several coaches, including the head of the Lawn Tennis Association Carl Maes, she chose coach Martijn Bok in 2007. Bok said later that although Robson “had trouble staying emotionally under control”, he “saw right away…a lot of potential in Laura.” Robson also began training at the National Tennis Centre, under the guidance of Bok, Maes, and the head of women’s tennis at the centre, Nigel Sears, while taking school lessons at home.
Robson’s first tournament on the Junior ITF Circuit was in 2007. She went from the qualifying draw of the tournament to the quarterfinals, and reached the final of two other tournaments, and won her first title in October. In the first half of 2008, she reached the finals of three tournaments, but was also eliminated before the third round in three straight tournaments.
Robson competed in her first junior Grand Slam at the Wimbledon girls’ event, as an unseeded player. As the youngest player in the tournament, she beat top seed Melanie Oudin on her way to the finals where she defeated third seed Noppawan Lertcheewakarn. Her victory made her the first British player to win the girls’ event since Annabel Croft in 1984, and the British media described her as the “new darling” of British tennis, and the “Queen of Wimbledon”.
After a brief period on the main tour, Robson returned to junior competition but was knocked out in the second round of a tournament in December. In the same month she played her final junior tournament of 2008, the Orange Bowl, where she had to retire in the third round with a stomach strain. At the end of the year, she was shortlisted for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, but lost out to Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds.
After recovering from her injury, Robson entered the junior tournament of the 2009 Australian Open, where she was seeded fifth. In the semifinals she faced a replay of her Wimbledon final, against top seed Tara Flanagan, whom she beat in straight sets to reach her second Grand Slam junior final. Facing third seed Ksenia Pervak from Russia, Robson was defeated in straight sets. She later attributed her loss to Pervak’s greater consistency, and her coach Bok said that “everybody has to be patient”. After the tournament, Robson started to train with Gil Reyes, the former trainer of Andre Agassi. She was also named the MCC Young Sportswoman of the Year. She claimed the top ranking of ITF Junior Tour in April, despite not playing for two months because of shin splints.
At the French Open, Robson was the top seed in the junior’s competition, but was defeated in round two by Sandra Zaniewska. Robson was the defending champion at Wimbledon, but she fell in the second round to Quirine Lemoine.
Due to her focusing on her senior career, Robson entered the US Open unseeded. In the first round, she beat Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. She then faced the seventh seed Lauren Embree of the United States and beat her in three sets. She went on to face the 12th seed, Tamaryn Hendler, who she defeated in straight sets. Robson then beat Lauren Davis in the quarterfinals. In her semifinal, she faced Yana Buchina of Russia. Due to rain delay, both quarter- and semifinals were played on the same day. Therefore, the semifinal followed the quarterfinal match. Despite starting strongly, Robson tired, losing the match in three sets.
At the junior singles at the 2010 Australian Open, Robson was unseeded and defeated Belinda Woolcock, Yulia Putintseva, and Cristina Dinu to reach the quarterfinals. In the last eight, she easily overcame American Ester Goldfeld to move through to her fourth junior Grand Slam semifinal where she defeated Kristýna Plíšková of the Czech Republic. She was defeated by Kristýna’s twin sister Karolína in the final. In the Wimbledon junior singles she reached the semifinals, losing to Sachie Ishizu of Japan.