Everyone's after her! Robson on track to make £20million as management companies fight for rising star's signature
Laura Robson is at the centre of one of the most keenly fought contests among management companies that tennis has seen in years as lucrative deals beckon with her rising profile.
On Tuesday the 19-year-old, who is already in the world's top 50, entered the corporate world beyond purely equipment endorsements when she sat alongside Richard Branson and was unveiled as the new face promoting Virgin Active.
It is the kind of blue-chip sponsorship that led one industry expert to predict that she could earn as much over her career as Tim Henman, who retired with his wealth estimated to be close to the £20million mark.
Robson is currently represented by the Octagon group but her contract expires in two months. While she might re-sign, her free agency has sparked huge interest among other management companies from Europe and America - among them IMG and Simon Fuller's 19, who have guided Andy Murray's career.
They and others are keen to fully explore the commercial opportunities of someone seen as a genuine Wimbledon contender and top-10 player in a few years who, along with Heather Watson, has substantially raised the profile of women's tennis in Britain.
Since winning the Wimbledon junior title at 14, Robson's parents have, sensibly enough, been keen to protect her from excess publicity and commercial duties away from the court, but now she is an adult these responsibilities are likely to increase and Tuesday's unveiling as Virgin Active's first 'tennis ambassador' was an initial step.
'It is not surprising that all the big companies want to represent her,' said John Collard, chief executive of the Sports Impact marketing agency. 'She has got a combination of talent, personality and attractiveness that makes her very appealing.
'Tennis is a sport where the visibility is high on a consistent basis unlike, for example, some Olympic sports where athletes do not compete as often. By doing so well in the Olympics and the last two Grand Slams she has brought herself into focus at the right time, and Wimbledon will always be a huge showcase.
'With endorsements and appearance money she could earn three or four times her official prize money and it's quite possible she could earn as much as Tim Henman did in his career.'
Coincidentally her mixed doubles Olympic silver medal partner Murray's deal with 19 ended at the end of the year and he has been renegotiating with them.
The Murray camp are said to be content with the public relations side of his affairs but much less so with the commercial end, which still sees him without a full quota of major endorsements despite his Olympic and US Open triumphs.
Even his watch deal with Rado - that caused such a comic kerfuffle when he won at Flushing Meadows - is believed to have been brought in by an outside party, so it is far from sure he will re-sign with Fuller on the same basis as before and again other companies are watching developments.
Robson declared that her goal is to be inside the top 32 and seeded by the time Wimbledon, which suits her game style, comes around.
After beating Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open and helping guide GB to a promotion play-off in the Fed Cup she has suffered two disappointing first-round defeats in Doha and Dubai.
'I didn't have the best preparation for those but now I'm really looking forward to going to Indian Wells and playing there next week,' she said. 'I know I have got to become more consistent.'http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-2285034/Laura-Robson-track-make-20million-management-companies-fight-signature--EXCLUSIVE.html