Britain’s Laura Robson’s hopes of making a full on-court comeback took another downturn when she underwent a third hip surgery last week.
More than anything my goal is to have a happy, pain free life. This whole process has been incredibly mentally draining and I'm so grateful to the physios/family/friends that have been there to guide me through it (socially distanced of course). Laura Robson
Robson has been battling the same sort of issue as Andy Murray – the deterioration of cartilage in her hip socket
The former Wimbledon junior champion announced the latest setback to her hopes on her 27th birthday via Instagram where she wrote: “For my birthday this year I got crutches. Sadly I had to undergo a third operation on my hip last week. I was desperate to carry on with training but was in so much pain that surgery was unavoidable.
“Following the advice of the surgeon and other doctors, a decision has been made to prioritise the long term health of my hip. Where that leaves me with tennis I’m really not sure, it will depend on how things heal in the next few months.
“More than anything my goal is to have a happy, pain free life. This whole process has been incredibly mentally draining and I’m so grateful to the physios/family/friends that have been there to guide me through it (socially distanced of course).”
Robson’s prospects appeared much rosier at the beginning of last month, when she posted a video clip of her hitting at the National Tennis Centre in London a year after her second round of hip surgery.
She is now creating a long-term health plan and hoping to stay injury-free at any cost.
Born in Melbourne, Robson travelled the world with her parents and made her first tennis steps in Singapore, staying in love with the sport once they moved to Great Britain.
A prodigious natural, left-handed ball-striker, she won the junior Wimbledon crown at the age of 14 in 2008, and made an impressive professional debut on the WTA Tour, winning her first title in November that same year.
In 2012 she partnered Murray to a silver medal at the London Olympics and then beat two major champions, Kim Clijsters and Li Na, on her way to the fourth round of the US Open.
She cracked the top-30 in 2013, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon that year, and climbed to No 27 in the world, but she suffered serious tendinitis problems in her wrists, particularly in her left wrist, that sidelined her between January 2014 and Eastbourne 2015, and then struggled to find her form on her return, barely winning any matches.
One of British tennis’ great unfulfilled talents, the next couple of seasons continued to be a struggle for Robson as she failed to make the top-100 again and, in July 2018, she underwent hip surgery, which kept her off the tour until February the following year.
Robson only competed at three events in 2019, closing out her season early in April, and opting for a second hip operation at the end of the year.
In 2020 she was on a good road to recovery, despite the restraints presented by the pandemic, before the latest injury struck that could end her playing career.
“Laura had one of the best ball-strikes I’ve ever seen on a tennis court,” said Annabel Croft, another Briton who won the junior event at Wimbledon but retired in her 20s, told The Telegraph. “In terms of natural power which just zings off the racket, it was breathtaking to watch.
“I still believe she had the talent to win Wimbledon as an adult as well,” Croft added. “When you look at Petra Kvitova [a two-time champion], Laura had the same ability to take the racket out of her opponent’s hand with her big game.
“She also had the Centre Court mentality: she naturally rose to the occasion and embraced it. It was tougher for her to float around the back courts and the lesser tournaments.
“When you have natural class, like Laura, it never goes away,” continued Croft. “But when you are dealing with injuries, it gets tougher and tougher if you can’t train.
“Speed and mobility were harder for her because she was so tall. She had a Lindsay Davenport physique. And when you’re always on the physio’s couch, it’s hard to improve your movement.
“Some people’s bodies just break down on them and it’s so unlucky if it happens.
“Also, it’s never easy when the attention is thrown on you as suddenly as it was after she won junior Wimbledon. Since then, people have been watching her so closely, each and every step.”
In recent years, Robson has used her downtime to develop a promising sideline as a broadcaster and could well follow in Croft’s footsteps again by becoming a regular on TV screens each summer.