Former British No 1 Laura Robson has decided to formally retire from competitive tennis after her long battle with injuries that curtailed her on-court career.
I think I’m always going to have the feeling that I could have done more, unfortunately. I feel like if I had just had another year or two of being healthy, I don’t know what I could have achieved. That [decision] 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. Laura Robson
After winning the junior Wimbledon title in 2008 at the age of 14, Robson rose to a career high of 27 in the WTA Rankings and was considered one of Britain’s brightest talents, but a wrist injury began to trouble her later in 2013, which kept her out for most of the next two years.
She returned in 2016 but could not recapture the same form she had shown in her teenage years, and was unable to climb back into the top 100.
Hip problems came to the fore in 2018, and she underwent surgery before returning briefly the following year, with her final match being played in Sunderland in April 2019.
Robson went under the knife again later that year, and for a third time last January, and she has now admitted defeat in her efforts to continue her on-court tennis career.
“I went through every possibility of rehab and of surgery,” the 28-year old told BBC Sport. “I had another hip surgery and probably did the best rehab block of my life — I went to all the best specialists and had some incredible people that I was working with just to get me back on court — and then the second time I hit, I just knew.
“It feels weird to say out loud, but I’m done, I’m retired.
“I’ve sort of known that 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.”
A left-hander, raised in the UK by Australian parents, Robson was renowned for her natural ball-striking skills and big-match mentality, which marked her for stardom, and she rose swiftly through the senior ranks, reaching the 4th round at the US Open, and winning a silver medal in mixed doubles with Andy Murray at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The following season she reached the last 16 at Wimbledon and achieved her highest world ranking of 27.
In 2010 she teamed up with Murray to represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the international mixed team competition, and they made it all the way to the final but finished as runners-up after losing a nail-biting mixed doubles clash against Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo.
Two years later Robson reached her first WTA Tour final at the Guangzhou Open, and finished the season just outside the world’s top 50.
At the US Open she became the first female British tennis player to progress to the 4th round of a Grand Slam for 14 years after beating two top 10 players and major champions, Kim Cijsters and Li Na in the opening rounds.
Robson represented Britain in the Fed Cup, now called the Billie Jean King Cup, and held an impressive record winning 13 out of the 16 rubbers she played.
“I think I’m always going to have the feeling that I could have done more, unfortunately,” she told BBC Sport. “But I’m really proud of the Olympics, of playing Fed Cup – playing for your country in any way was always one of my favourite weeks of the year – and I think playing Wimbledon and the US Open the time that I did well, I will have those memories forever.”
Crowning her breakout season on tour, Robson was named WTA Newcomer of the Year at the annual awards.
Her career best performances came in 2013 at the Australian Open, where she reached the 3rd round, and the 4th round at Wimbledon, and she scored wins over Venus Williams, Petra Kvitova and world No.4 Agnieszka Radwańska that same year.
Towards the end of that same year, however, Robson began to struggle with a wrist injury, which required surgery and forced her to miss much of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Despite continuous struggles with injury and time away from the tour, Robson won the biggest singles title of her career in 2017 at the ITF $60K tournament in Kurume, where she defeated Katie Boulter in the final.
“I think, overall, I’m a much nicer person from going through all of that,” said Robson, who has carved out a new career in TV and radio. “If I keep looking back and thinking ‘what if,’ then I can’t move forward.
“I think I’m always going to have the feeling that I could have done more, unfortunately. I feel like if I had just had another year or two of being healthy, I don’t know what I could have achieved.”
It is a disappointing decision for the 28-year-old, even if many had assumed she had already stepped away.
“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 added.
Robson took to social media to post a photo of herself playing tennis as a young girl after she announced her retirement, captioning the image ‘Thank you for mmrs’.
Fans were quick to respond, one posting: ”Still so young, devastated for you, good luck in the future Laura.” while 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!”.
Robson joined the BBC commentary team for Wimbledon while she was recovering from her surgery and gained experience with the BT Sport production team covering the Fed Cup World Group 2 play-offs.
In addition to continuing with her pundit duties, Robson also serves as a Vodafone brand ambassador after the mobile phone company signed a multi-million pound deal to become the official connectivity partner for Wimbledon.