British teenager Laura Robson heads to Florida this weekend for the second half of a training block that she hopes will get her in perfect shape for the new season. After something of a breakthrough year, in which she won the silver medal in mixed doubles at the Olympics, reached the last 16 at the US Open and ended it ranked 53, Robson is targeting big things in 2013. In an interview with a small group of British reporters, the 18-year-old explains why the Olympics is so important to her and why the Rio Games in 2016 is a huge goal.
Where does your silver medal stand in your achievements this year?
Pretty high, I would say. I always forget about it really. I’ve almost lost the medal a few times, so it’s just best to leave it in my room now. It was so different that week, playing in front of such a different crowd and playing mixed doubles. We didn’t really get to soak any of it in because we left for Cincinnati the next day. I would have loved to have stayed here the second week and gone to all of the other events but we had to focus on singles again.
Did you take the medal out everywhere?
No, I didn’t. The day after the final we obviously had to do a lot of interviews and you had to go in all these golf buggies from one TV studio to another. I left the medal in the buggy and the BOA guy had to grab it for me when I was already in the building. I feel a bit self-conscious wearing it around my neck, so I just prefer to keep it at home.
To people ask you to take it to events and places?
The other night I went to a Brownies club, near where I live, and the little girls were loving it. Except I brought my accreditation as well and I think they were more interested in all the pins (from different countries).
Why do you feel self-conscious wearing it?
I don’t know, it’s just…it’s not something I would wear around my neck all the time. I’m obviously really proud of the achievement. But it’s like, just attracting attention to yourself really, and it’s just something I’d prefer not to do.
Too much bling?
Yeah, a little bit.
Where is it now?
It’s at home.
In a cupboard, or something?
I’ve got a little Olympic shelf in my bookcase and it’s got my badge, the medal, which is in a box, and a certificate as well, from the IOC, which was quite cool.
So the Rio Olympics is quite important to you already?
I’ve already got Rio in the back of my mind which I know is a long way off. I’m just a massive Olympics person, really. So my main goal for the last few years has been just to play in this Olympics. And I got a medal out of that, so hopefully in Rio I can do one better.”
If you could pick one thing you could achieve in the sport, what would it be? Olympic gold, Wimbledon, world No 1?
“Either Wimbledon or an Olympic gold medal. I don’t know. I’d take either really [smiling].”
But Olympic gold above another slam other than Wimbledon? Presumably you would take any one of them…
“Yeah. Every single one is an amazing achievement. But for me the Olympics is so big, I think that would rank above something like Roland Garros maybe – not that that’s not an amazing slam. But it’s just something that I would love to do.”
There was a bit of contention about you being chosen for the Olympics above Heather Watson. You’re both friends. Has it ever come up in conversation?
It hasn’t, but I think it was totally understandable for Heather to want to play. I would have felt the same – and she was the No 1 ranked doubles player and singles player at the time so it was a tough decision – but I wasn’t involved in the process of making it, so I don’t know why it was made or anything like that but I was obviously very happy to have been picked, and it seemed to work out pretty well.