The Incredible Bulk: How little Laura Robson has transformed from slender schoolgirl to beefed up athlete… but it wasn't enough to propel her into Wimbledon's second round
08:49 GMT, 27 June 2012
When she won junior Wimbledon, she was a mere slip of a girl.
But as the tournaments she has played in have become more imposing, it seems Laura Robson’s physique has followed suit.
The 18-year-old has worked hard to improve her athleticism in the past four years – but while the results of her efforts were clear to see on court yesterday, they weren’t enough to propel her into the second round.
Change: When Laura Robson was a junior champion in 2008 she was a mere slip of a girl. But when she appeared on court yesterday, she had noticeably beefed up
Growing up: Robson delivers another blistering backhand return on her way to defeat yesterday
In a thrilling clash against former French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone, the British number two took the first set, using those triceps to unleash powerful forehands that overwhelmed her opponent.
But experience began to outweigh youth and Schiavone, 32, used every tactical trick in the book – halting play for treatment on her back, leaving the court for quarter of an hour and then keeping Robson waiting to serve by playing with her towel.
Hard-hitting: A noticeably more muscular Robson unleashes a ferocious two-footed backhand during her match yesterday
She was further put off her stride by her opponent’s grunting, shouting and persistent call challenges.
Asked about her opponent’s grunting, charming as ever, Robson giggled.
‘I was grunting as well’ she smiled.
‘Doesn’t bother me at all.’
However she did admit that the injury breaks after she had taken the lead did put her off.
‘It’s really important to stay warm when anyone takes an injury timeout, especially when one lasted as long as that one did.
‘In general she took a lot of time between points, and that gave me more
time to think about what I was doing – I think that’s really tough.’
Looking incredibly downcast she gulped back tears when asked about her match’s ‘best bits’.
‘I don’t know – maybe ask me in a few days.
‘I’m really disappointed actually. I just thought I was in control of
it, and then just made a few mistakes and let her get back into the
Robson won her junior title four years ago, but despite winning her
first round matches in the senior draw for the last couple of years has
struggled with injury.
Her intense growth spurts – she shot up from 5ft6 to almost 6ft – caused her myriad strains and stresses.
Once asked what she most wanted – she replied wistfully ‘to stop growing’.
Now with her A levels behind her, and just broken into the top 100 women
in the world, she can work on improving that imposing physique.
Fans: Spectators watch the women's singles tennis match between Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Laura Robson yesterday
Injured: Francesca Schiavone of Italy receives treatment during her match with Laura Robson
Main attraction: Spectators line 'Henman Hill' outside Centre Court to catch Robson in action
Sad: Laura Robson waves to the crowd after losing her first round match
She said: ‘I work hard on my fitness. I spend a lot of time with my trainer.
‘And we’ve been working on the right things, being more explosive on the court, generally keeping up with the cardio stuff.
‘So I think my movement has improved, but it’s definitely a work in
progress.’ For now, though she’ll be playing in the mixed doubles and
cheering on her close friend and teammate Heather Robson.
And fortunately, there’s always next year.