Record holding player a fan of game for life
She has represented New Zealand 20 times in badminton and tennis and still serves on the Auckland Badminton Association committee. Heather Robson sat down with Lauren Priestley for a chat. GOOD SPORTS
Racket sports have brought Heather Robson enjoyment, friendship and even true love.
The Auckland grandmother met her husband, New Zealand’s highest-ever ranked badminton player Jeff Robson, on a tennis court.
The couple have dedicated their lives to racket sports and together set up the Oceania Badminton Confederation with an Australian colleague.
Mrs Robson started playing tennis at age 10 and was ‘‘ roped into’’ badminton by friends 10 years later.
She was awarded the prestigious Badminton World Federation Lifetime Achievement Award last month.
‘‘It [Badminton] with me.
‘‘I carried enjoyed it.’’
Mrs Robson played international badminton until she was 40 but continued socially for many years.
She won a record seven New Zealand singles titles, nine national doubles titles and three mixed doubles titles alongside her husband.
She made the semi-finals of the All England Singles in 1954 which was ‘‘the Wimbledon of Badminton in those days’’ and won the Irish Ladies Singles the same year.
On the tennis scene she played twice at Wimbledon and also won New Zealand doubles and mixed titles.
She says playing top-level badminton was more physically demanding than tennis.
‘‘It’s much harder and faster than it shows on television. You’ve got a whole lot of overhead stuff but you’ve also got to have control.’’
it on because
Mrs Robson served as an administrator after she retired from playing professionally.
She was president of the Oceania Badminton Confederation, New Zealand Badminton Federation and Auckland Badminton Association. She is now a life member of all three organisations. She was involved in the building of the Auckland Badminton hall in 1960.
She says the lack of publicity badminton gets is discouraging.
‘‘Worldwide it’s a big sport but we can’t get past our rugby here.
‘‘There are so many other sports now so young people can just pick and choose.’’
The family aspect of the sport means once people start they are often in for life, she says. Social and masters classes are often the strongest in badminton clubs now. ‘‘It’s a lifetime sport. ‘‘It was always very family orientated. People can continue playing for a long time and it’s the family aspect that often keeps them.’’
Dedicated server: Heather Robson is in her 80s and has dedicated her life to badminton. She was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for the sport last month.