Robson's rise earns Wimbledon wild card

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The Independent Online

Laura Robson, Britain's junior Wimbledon champion, will play in the main draw at this year's Championships after the All England Club decided last night to award her a wild card. At 15 years and five months, Robson will be the youngest Briton to play at Wimbledon in the Open era and the youngest from any country since Martina Hingis played in the 1995 tournament at 14 years and nine months.

Robson captured the country's imagination last summer when she became the first Briton to win the Wimbledon girls' event since Annabel Croft in 1984. Winners of the junior competition automatically receive a wild card into qualifying for the senior draw, but this is the fourth year in succession that the All England Club has fast-tracked the girls' champion into the main event. Wimbledon begins in 13 days.

There have been only 10 younger players at Wimbledon in modern times. The list features some famous names, including Tracy Austin, Jennifer Capriati, Andrea Jaeger, Gabriela Sabatini and Hingis. Lottie Dod is the youngest Wimbledon champion, having won in 1887 at 15 years and 285 days.

Robson, who will be playing on grass this weekend at the Nottingham Masters exhibition event, made her debut on the senior tour at the end of last year, but has been focusing on her schoolwork recently and has played only junior tournaments in 2009.

After losing to a more experienced opponent in the final of the Australian Open juniors at the start of the year, Robson did not play for three months following an injury scare. Her problem was eventually diagnosed merely as growing pains and she returned to action in a junior event in Milan last month, where she reached the quarter-finals. She lost last week in the second round of the French Open juniors.

Anne Keothavong, the British No 1, has earned a place in the main draw through her ranking. The next four Britons in the rankings, Elena Baltacha, Katie O'Brien, Mel South and Georgie Stoop, all receive wild cards, as do Michelle Larcher de Brito, the 16-year-old Portuguese who attracted so much attention with her grunting and screaming at the French Open, and the American Alexa Glatch.

In the men's event wild cards go to Alex Bogdanovic, who has lost all seven of his first-round matches at Wimbledon, Josh Goodall, James Ward and Dan Evans, as well as Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero and Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, last year's boys' champion.

Andy Murray, the only British man in the main draw through his ranking, will play his first singles match here at this year's Aegon Championships tomorrow. The world No 3, who faces Italy's Andreas Seppi, partnered Lleyton Hewitt last night in a 3-6, 6-3, 12-10 doubles victory over Andy Roddick and Rajeev Ram.

All the Britons in qualifying failed to make it into the main draw, while the two who received wild cards, Goodall and Ward, both fell at the first hurdle. Goodall was beaten 6-3, 7-6 by Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, while Ward went down 6-2, 6-3 to Marcos Baghdatis.