My perfect weekend: Laura Robson, British female No 1
Tennis player Laura Robson, 19, keeps punishing training hours six out of seven days a week, only relaxing on Sundays.
By Rosie Millard, 7:00AM BST 18 Jun 2013
Mondays and Tuesdays are full training days, Wednesday is my half training day, Thursday to Saturday are full days and I have Sundays off.
That’s my usual week at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south-west London. So unless I’m in a tournament, my weekend will start with me coming home from a training session, and having an ice bath.
It’s actual ice with a bit of water in and the baths help train my muscles: I have one most days. I’m in it for 10 minutes up to my shoulders but after two minutes, you don’t feel it at all. Everything just freezes.
I’ve recently started living in a flat in Putney. I used to live with my parents, but they moved to Greece earlier this year after living in Wimbledon for a long time. My two black labrador dogs, Ella and Kiri, have gone over with them, so the evenings are rather lonely and quiet at the moment.
On Saturday mornings I’m back at Roehampton. I usually hit twice in a practice day, each time for an hour and a half or two hours. What do I do? Sometimes match practice where you play a practice set, or sometimes a mixture of things.
I’ve been doing a lot of work on my serve, because that hasn’t been ideal in the last few tournaments. In practice, it’s all fine. But then you end up serving for the match in a tournament, and the nerves kick in and it doesn’t go to plan at all. I’d say my serve is a work in progress.
Adidas has a Play Development Programme and there are a couple of very experienced coaches I’ve been working with since I was about 12. It’s a good set-up but after Wimbledon this year I’ll be looking for something a bit more permanent. At the moment though I’m doing non-stop tournaments, and it would be very difficult to get into a rhythm with a new coach.
I have quite a long lunch break to rest and recover before the next session. We have some very good chefs at the national centre who come up with inventive ways of incorporating things like quinoa into my diet. After my second session I see a physio, have a massage and fit an ice bath in.
On an ideal Saturday I would get home from training at about 7.30pm, have dinner and do some reading. I am big into biographies and I’ve read most of the tennis ones. If you’re a tennis fan I would say Agassi’s is the best. When I’m waiting around at a tournament, I read on a Kindle.
There aren’t many other sports which are quite as individual as tennis. You can have on-court coaching during matches (apart from the Grand Slams), but I like figuring things out myself when I’m on court. You simply have to refocus on what you’ve learnt in practice.
Off-court, I am friendly with most of the other girls on tour. You find your group who you hang out with, so it’s not that lonely and I play against all the girls I’m friends with, usually more than once a year. When I’m on court facing them I take it just as seriously as any other match. Obviously we are both trying to win, but then at the end of the day we go out for dinner together quite happily.
My perfect Sunday would definitely start with a lie-in. I wake up super-early during practice weeks and tournaments, usually at 6.30am. If you’re not on court early during a tournament, you have to try to get on to a practice court as early as you can.
The courts are limited because everyone wants their own time, so a good time to get a court is between 8.30am and 10am. I learnt that from Steffi Graf who used to always practise from 7am. Except I usually practise in the afternoons as well.
On Sunday mornings I might go and do a Zumba dancing class. A couple of my friends train at the Virgin Active in Chiswick, so I go there for a class. I used to play there myself when I was a lot younger and I might get recognised a bit, but everyone takes their Zumba very seriously so it’s fine.
If people do approach me, they usually tell me I’m taller in real life than they thought I was. I am 5ft 11in, but because most people have seen me playing with Andy Murray, who’s 6ft 2, I look quite small next to him.
Andy is great. He’s such an easy person to play with, because he is so good. Whenever the ball comes to me, I just try to get it in and he does the rest of the work. When he won the US Open it was a big deal for everyone in British tennis. It was such an inspiration, to see him finally win a slam after being in finals so many times. I think everyone worked a bit harder after that and thought, “Yeah, I can get there.”
On Sundays I might go for brunch at Le Pain Quotidien café in Wimbledon village. I’m a Wimbledon girl at heart. My favourite time there is two days before the tournament when everything is still and quiet and ready to go.
I love the middle Sunday, too: it’s crazy to have this day of nothing in the middle of a tournament. It never happens anywhere else.
Stepping out into Centre Court is amazing. It’s kind of surreal. You go past all the famous quotations on the walls and can see all the trophies just sitting there. It’s incredible.
The first time I played on Centre Court I was about 15 and as I was going on, Roger Federer was coming off court and said, “Good luck, Laura” and all I could think was, “Oh my God, Federer just spoke to me!”
On my perfect Sunday evening I would go out for dinner with my friends or go to the cinema. I don’t really like films about tennis as I can’t take them seriously. In Wimbledon, with Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, it was so obvious they weren’t very good at tennis.
Am I under pressure, as the British number one woman? There is always pressure. I have had pressure since I was 14, and I just kind of got on with it. It’s probably taken a bit longer than everyone expected for me to get to where I am now, but you have injuries and things that pop up, which you have to deal with. I think I’ve done a pretty OK job so far.
But now Wimbledon’s coming up, I’m injury-free and I’ve been playing well. I’m just a couple of places away from being seeded, so with luck, by the time Wimbledon comes around I will be seeded and won’t have to play Serena first round.
Herbal tea or stiff drink?
I like green tea. Is that herbal? I don’t really drink booze at all.
Burberry Body in the winter and Marc Jacobs Daisy in summer.
Favourite tennis surface?
Both grass and hard, but grass is ideal. That is my game, and I love it.
My forehand down the line. If it’s a really tight point and a really close match, I am always pretty confident it’s going to come off.
Favourite holiday destination?
I haven’t had an actual holiday since I was 14. You get two weeks off at the end of the year, but by that time all you want to do is stay at home.
Favourite television show?
Game Of Thrones is my number one, but I love Suits and New Girl too. And in America, I really got into The Voice.
FIVE FAVOURITE THINGS
My Burberry coat with jewels on the shoulders
My 2012 Olympic medal