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A Hope

Created on 6/7/2008

When you leave the players building that leads to the Centre Court of the world famous Wimbledon tennis championships there are a couple of lines of a poem by Rudyard Kipling that read, “if you can meet with triumph and disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same” advising all the successful and unsuccessful players that pass through those doors how to react to winning and losing. Taking up the Centre Court today were the two powerhouses of the women’s game, the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. It was the former who triumphed on this occasion. Between these two Williams girls they have won 17 Grand Slam tournaments, a magnificent tribute to their talent, their physicality and the never ending training their father put them through from an early age.

When you watch these two amazing athletes you are awestruck by their sheer athleticism, roaring will to win, and their perspiration drenched, adrenaline-pumping determination to pump their legs faster, grip their rackets tighter, hit the ball harder. Watching these female leviathans grapple for supremacy is so intense it becomes uncomfortable, almost like observing something obscene, a quest for control, a matter of life and death. Can a normal athlete compete with these levels of intensity, what do you sacrifice to beat superwomen like these?

Meanwhile at the next court, number 1 there is a girl, aged 14, who thinks that one day she can beat these Williams girls, her name is Laura Robson, remember the name, because with any luck she is going to be a winner. This young lady yesterday won the Junior Wimbledon title for girls at the All England Club. The most important thing about her winning at the tender age of 14 is not that she dropped just one set during the entire championships. No the most important thing is that she’s British, kind of, and she’s very pretty, and if you type out her name on Google, where she would have been unknown a month back, she now has nearly 1.5 million mentions.

Robson is already the highest ranked 14-year-old in the world and, if she carries on winning will soon be the number one junior in Britain. Laura was the first British girl to win the junior tournament since Annabel Croft, 24 years ago. Her family is all Australian and loaded with athletic ability and good Oz fighting stock. That makes young Linda exactly the kind of Brit who is likely to be a winner.

Laura appears to be well protected, sensible, polite and understated. She was born in Melbourne, Australia. Her family moved to Singapore when she was just 18 months with her father Andrew, a Shell executive, and mother Cathy, a former professional basketball player. She also has an older brother Nicholas, who is a professional swimmer, and an elder sister Emily.

The Robsons then moved to the UK when Robson was six. She’s really a full time professional already training four months of the year abroad. Laura does her schooling at home. Having played tennis since the age of six, the knowledgeable experts at the National Tennis Centre where she also trains appear unanimous in forecasting that she will be the new star of women's tennis.

You could almost sense the money men’s eyes spinning with delight as they surrounded the packed number one court. They were leaning forward with such eagerness that I thought their saliva would drop on the court.

Linda is also very bright and personable, so she might have the wit to protect herself from the suction pads of the leeches that are about to descend on her. Hopefully her family unit is strong and secure enough to protect her from the blood sucking time wasters with their siren songs.

Watching Linda play was a joy. Obviously, at 14 she is not yet the finished article, but to play and beat the top seeds, who are mostly between 2 to 4 years older than her, is a major accomplishment. Let us all wish her much luck. It’s a pleasure to watch her sheer joy and ability, as yet unsullied and unblemished by avarice.

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