Laura Robson delivers at last on promise to 'take down' Venus Williams

Briton beats Williams 6-3, 6-2 as she predicted when she was 14 years old. And next up it’s her world No 1 sister Serena...

In a television interview immediately after her victory in the Wimbledon girls’ final in 2008, Laura Robson was asked how she would feel about  facing the likes of Venus Williams in future years. “I’ll take her down,” the wide-eyed 14-year-old said with a grin.

Williams, who had just won her fifth Wimbledon title at the time, may now be a shadow of the player she was five years ago, but there could be no hiding Robson’s joy here yesterday when she made her prediction come true. The 19-year-old Briton’s 6-3, 6-2 victory in her first meeting with the 32-year-old American was every bit as convincing as the scoreline suggested and gives her the ultimate challenge on Tuesday night when she faces Williams’ sister, Serena, the world No 1.

It was Robson’s second successive big win following her parting of the ways with her coach, Zeljko Krajan, after the world No 39 claimed her highest-ranked victim so far when she beat Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 4, in Madrid last week. As an interim arrangement Robson is working this week with Sven Groeneveld, one of the Adidas coaches, and Lucie Ahl, from the Lawn Tennis Association.

When the draw for this week was made Robson’s mother reminded her of the interview she gave five years ago by sending her a copy ("as if I could ever forget saying something so stupid," said Robson, now 19).

"I was pretty pumped," she said when asked what she had thought when she saw the draw. "It was definitely a tough draw, but I’ve had my fair share of easier draws this year that I haven’t taken advantage of, so I was really excited to get out there today. Sven was telling me to calm down before the match because I was jumping around for about an hour. I had so much energy because I was so excited.

"I saw Venus play Wimbledon when I was about 10. I was blown away by how hard she hit the ball. When she hit it in the centre of the racket today it was basically point over."

In truth there were not many occasions when Williams hit the ball sweetly. The world No 24, who has never looked the same since her diagnosis with the incurable auto-immune disease Sjögren’s Syndrome two years ago, rarely had control of her ground strokes and her second serve was pitifully slow.

The conditions, with a fierce breeze blowing clay around the court, made for an error-strewn match, but Robson coped well on her first appearance at the Foro Italico. The match was played in the imposingly beautiful centre court, although the crowd was sparse as the locals headed for the pizza and ice cream stalls in readiness for the subsequent all-Italian encounter between Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi.

Robson saved two break points in the second game, but took command after breaking to lead 3-1. The Briton hit six double faults in the first set but settled down in the second, striking some characteristically potent ground strokes and showing admirable control in the tricky conditions.

"She didn’t play her best and it’s  always hard to play a high-quality game of tennis in the wind," Robson said. "I wish it could have been a  better standard, but I’m happy to have won."

In the next round Robson will attempt to become only the eighth player in history to beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament and the first since Jelena Jankovic here three years ago.

Robson said she had always wanted to play Serena. "She’s playing pretty much the best tennis of her life right now," Robson said. "She’s not losing at all. It’s going to be insanely tough, but I’m going to go out there with nothing to lose."

Serena, who watched all of yesterday’s match, said Robson had "a great game" and added: "She’s really young still, she’s just so free and she looks great on the court, and is so smooth. She has a great, great game and she’s a leftie, so that just adds a whole notch to her level. And to top it off I think she’s a great girl, a really, really nice girl."

Robson’s ranking is such that she is now on the verge of being seeded for Grand Slam tournaments, which would mean she would avoid seeded opponents for at least three rounds, but she admitted: "It seems like I prefer playing seeded players anyway, so maybe it’s a good thing if I’m not seeded."

The Briton said she was happy with her temporary coaching arrangements. "It’s obviously working. I’ve worked on and off with Sven since I was 11 or 12, so he knows my game really well. I really understand what he’s trying to tell me."

The Briton said the parting of the ways with Krajan had come about  because "his way of working was just different to mine" and "we didn’t have enough in common and I think you need to really get on with your coach on and off the court".

Asked what she thought about Krajan saying, following the split, that she was immature, Robson said: "I think I do lack maturity, in press conferences anyway. We just didn’t click. He’s free to say whatever."

 



PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor