How a moped crash led Cameron Norrie to a Wimbledon quarter-final

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

He faces his first ever grand slam quarter-final clash on Tuesday as the last Briton standing at Wimbledon.

But Cameron Norrie has told how he only committed to tennis after a moped crash forced him to turn his life around.

The 26-year-old, affectionately known as Nozzer, faces unseeded Belgian David Goffin on Court One on Tuesday. He is the first British man to reach the quarter-finals since Sir Andy Murray in 2017.

Born in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, Norrie grew up in New Zealand before attending college in the United States.

At Texas Christian university (TCU) in Fort Worth he studied sociology and played tennis for his college team known as The Horned Frogs.

But Norrie revealed that he crashed his moped in his second year after “a pretty big night and definitely a couple too many”.

The British No 1 needed six stitches on his chin and missed out on a professional tournament, leaving his college coach furious. But it was the “wake-up call” that he needed, said Norrie.

“It was a realisation that I was kind of not doing it the way I wanted to do it and making not the best decisions,” he told reporters on Monday. “I was going out more than I probably should have been, like a typical student there at TCU, enjoying myself a lot.

“After that the coaches really kicked me into gear and I was definitely more professional after that. I grew up a lot after that. From then on, I was like, OK, I want to play tennis and commit to that and do that.”

Cameron Norrie’s girlfriend Louise Jacobi celebrates after his fourth-round win.
Cameron Norrie’s girlfriend, Louise Jacobi, celebrates after his fourth-round win. Photograph: Kieran Galvin/EPA

He said it was the “turning point” of his career, adding: “In the end it was a positive thing and it definitely kicked me into gear.”

He has previously told how he would have worked in “real estate” if he had not become a tennis player.

Norrie, who does not own a car, was photographed cycling into SW19 on Monday as he took to the practice courts before his semi-final bid on Tuesday.

He defeated 30th seed Tommy Paul of the United States on Sunday as his girlfriend, Louise Jacobi, a fashion company founder, watched from the sidelines.

He was also joined by his microbiologist parents, Helen and David, who both played squash to university level and live in Auckland. The couple left Johannesburg with their daughter, Bronwen, and Norrie when he was three, after a “traumatic” burglary at their home.

His mother has previously told how Norrie began playing tennis with a repurposed squash racket as a young child after she introduced him to the sport.

Related: Cameron Norrie is a British tennis success story sneaking under the radar | Hannah Jane Parkinson

“When Cameron was four or five, we cut down one of my old squash rackets so it looked a bit like a lollipop,” said Helen, 59, who was born in Cardiff.

“We used a big bouncy plastic ball and drew a line in the concrete of the driveway for the net. He would keep score and he just wanted to play all the time.”

Norrie, a Newcastle United fan, moved to London from New Zealand to train full-time at the National Tennis Centre, in south-west London, when he was 16.

The following year he switched to representing the UK, before heading off for his college years in the US.

Despite his international upbringing, Norrie says he feels at home in the UK as he urged fans to get behind him as the last Briton standing at Wimbledon.

The player, who lives in Putney, south-west London, said: “I consider myself British.

“Both my parents are British. My mum is Welsh and my dad is Scottish, with a filthy Scottish accent.”