Former British number one Laura Robson is just happy to be back playing as she prepares to continue her long-awaited comeback at Wimbledon.
Robson reached the fourth round at the All England Club two years ago as her world ranking soared to a career high 27 but a troublesome wrist injury means this will be her first Grand Slam tournament in 17 months.
The 21-year old returned to action for the first time since the 2014 Australian Open in Eastbourne last week and faces Russian Evgeniya Rodina in the first round after receiving a wildcard invite from organisers.
However, she admits patience is required and expectations are low.
“I would have preferred to start at smaller tournaments than this. I think I’m pretty realistic that my level is not at the point where it was before I was injured,” said Robson, a former girls’ singles winner at Wimbledon and the Olympic mixed doubles silver medallist with Andy Murray at London 2012.
“I’m very happy to be back here. Obviously I would have liked to have come back sooner but it doesn’t always work out like that.
“I know how well I’ve played and practised but obviously it doesn’t always translate to matches.
“My coach, my trainer, we’re all very patient. If I don’t play well, then it’s not the end of the world, because we all learn in tennis that there’s always next week. I’m injury free and pain free and I think that’s the main thing.
“If it doesn’t work out after this tournament, I’m going to go play some challengers in America and I accept that it’s going to take a while.
“I don’t think anything is worse for an athlete than doing over a year of rehab. So even though last week I got absolutely pummeled, getting pummeled is better than not playing anything at all.
“In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that the desire has been rekindled because it never went away. I’m happy to be playing in a way that I wasn’t before and losing is not the end of the world, because there are definitely worse things.”
Robson’s return to action is welcomed by current British number one Heather Watson, who also knows first hand what it’s like to battle through injury and illness just when you thought you’d made your breakthrough.
“I’m glad she’s back and fit and healthy,” said Watson, who faces a difficult first round encounter with France’s Carolina Garcia.
“She’s not just a great player but she’s also a really good person off the court. I don’t think she would want to miss another Wimbledon and I think she wouldn’t be back here unless she was fit and healthy and 100%.”
Watson won her first Tour title in Hobart earlier this year but admits she struggled during the recent clay court season.
“I’ve definitely had some highs and lows this season but the highs have been quite high and I feel very, very good about my game,” she added.
“I just had a little lapse in the clay court season. But we’re back on the grass and I’m feeling great. My practice this week is the best I felt so far with my game.”
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