Nearly half a lifetime has passed for Laura Robson since she caused a minor sensation by winning the junior Wimbledon event at 14.
Four years later in 2012, when she successively knocked Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na out of the US Open, there seemed even fewer limits to what she might accomplish.
Many injuries later the 28-year-old confirmed on Monday what most already assumed – that she was retiring in the wake of her latest hip surgery. She had not played a competitive match in more than three years.
‘It feels weird to say out loud, but I’m done, I’m retired,’ Robson told the BBC, for whom she now works as a broadcaster.
‘I think I’m always going to have the feeling I could have done more. If I had just had another year or two of being healthy, I don’t know what I could have achieved. It’s the difficulty of having it taken away from you rather than deciding yourself, as I would love to be out there still.
‘I’ve sort of known for a while because of what I was told by the doctors last year, but I think it just took me so long to say it to myself, which is why it took me so long to say it officially.’
Laura Robson has officially retired from tennis after struggling to return from her hip surgery
She underwent her third hip surgery in January 2022 after first going under the knife in 2018
A left-hander, raised in the UK by Australian parents, Robson possessed a rare ball-striking ability which enabled her to generate easy power. That was demonstrated by the illustrious victims she collected en route to peaking at No 27 in the world.
Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova were other past Grand Slam winners she defeated before being hit with a catalogue of injuries that began with wrist issues that required surgery the following year.
To fully exploit her hand skills – which brought her a mixed doubles Olympic silver medal with Andy Murray – she would have needed the same monastic approach to fitness training as her Scottish partner. But being something of a free spirit with an independent mind, the grind required for the tour did not always appeal.
Robson became a teenage sensation after winning the junior Wimbledon girls’ title at just 14
Robson went on to win a silver medal in mixed doubles alongside Andy Murray in 2012
In the long run the pressures of having announced herself to Wimbledon at such a young age were never going to make fulfilling her potential easy. And that was without a set of hips that needed three operations, the first of which came in 2018.
The same freedom of thought will serve her well as she further establishes her place among the prominent ex-players in the TV studio and commentary booth.
Robson’s career was plagued by injury. She first went under the knife in 2014 to fix an issue with her wrist.
Despite retiring due to injury, Robson says she does not feel cheated out of her career
Robson took to social media to post a photo of herself playing tennis as a young girl. She captioned it: ‘Thank you for mmrs’
Following that, Robson sustained a hip issue that forced her to go back to the operating table in 2018. She returned to the court in the spring of 2019 and unknowingly played the final game of career against Harriet Dart at the ITF event in Sunderland.
Robson went back to theatre shortly after she retired from her match with Dart and ultimately decided to call it time on her career after undergoing her third hip surgery.
Despite retiring due to injury, Robson says she does not feel cheated out of her career and that the experience has made her a ‘nicer person’.
The 28-year-old said: ‘That took a long, long time because it’s the difficulty of having it taken away from you rather than deciding yourself, as I would absolutely love to be out there still,’ she says.
‘But ultimately what’s happened has happened, and I think overall I’m a much nicer person from going through all of that. If I keep looking back and thinking ‘what if’, then I can’t move forward.’
Robson took to social media to post a photo of herself playing tennis as a young girl after she announced her retirement. She captioned the photo: ‘Thank you for mmrs’.
Her fans were quick to respond. One wrote: ‘Still so young, devastated for you, good luck in the future Laura’. Another added: ‘Thank you for the joy and smiles and allowing us to be a part of your journey. Rest, relax, but stay on our TVs!’.
One Instagram user wrote: ‘Good luck with the next chapter. Pity about your retirement from the sport but health first’.
Robson will mostly likely focus on presenting after joining the BBC commentary team for Wimbledon while she recovered from her surgery. Robson also gained experience by featuring in the BT Sport production team for the Fed Cup World Group 2 play-offs.
Robson has also become a Vodafone brand ambassador after the mobile phone company signed a multimillion pound deal to become the official connectivity partner of Wimbledon.
Robson’s decision to retire comes after former British No 1 Johanna Konta announced her shock retirement from professional tennis at the age of 30 in December 2021
Konta penned an emotional message online where she emphasised how ‘grateful’ she felt
Robson’s decision to retire comes after former British No 1 Johanna Konta announced her shock retirement from professional tennis at the age of 30 in December 2021.
In a statement on Twitter titled ‘Grateful’, the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist described how she managed to ‘live her dreams’ and counted herself to be ‘incredibly fortunate’.
Konta penned an emotional statement on social media, saying: ‘Grateful. This is the word that I’ve probably used the most during my career, and is the word that I feel explains it best at the end.
‘My playing career has come to an end, and I am so incredibly grateful for the career that it turned out to be.
‘All the evidence pointed towards me not ‘making’ it in this profession. However my luck materialised in the people that came into my life and impacted my existence in ways that transcended tennis.
‘I am so incredibly grateful for these people. You know who you are.
‘Through my own resilience and through the guidance of others, I got to live my dreams. I got to become what I wanted and said as a child. How incredible fortunate I count myself to be. How grateful I am.’
Konta reached the last four at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the French Open while also reaching the quarters at the US Open.
Her biggest title came at the Miami Open in 2017, while she also reached the quarter-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Konta finished her career with four career titles, the last of which came at the Nottingham Open in June.