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Life on the WTA tour with Robin Fenlon

I met Robin for the first time at a pre-US Open Nike event featuring Serena Williams.  I was trying to vie for a spot close to the stage when I felt someone's camera tap my cheek from behind, (the nerve!) but before I could turn around and rip into the person that was invading my personal space I heard, "Sorry if my camera tickled you" in an English accent, and my less than honorable intentions, (I was having a bad day) melted away on the spot. 

I have only chatted with Robin in person twice, but from those two times I am convinced that he is the guy that other guys aspire to be and that girls fawn over.  He is reminiscent of a cross between Ryan Gosling and Danny Zuko; fashionable but masculine (he rocks pink shorts yet is a professional BMX rider), confident but not conceited, charming but not pretentious, and did I mention that he has an English accent? 

For over a year he has lived his life on the WTA tour, and if you have enjoyed any of the WTA videos and photos that have been released during that time, he has had his hand in most of them.  He is a nomad, an adrenaline junkie, and an artist.  He lives a life that most of us dream about but don't have the talent (or the balls) to do.  Please, let me introduce you to Robin Fenlon:

When did you start working for the WTA and how did the job come about? 

I started working for the WTA in August 2010.  My colleague from a previous job had just started to work there and asked me to do a day's shoot in Eastbourne.  That turned into a three month contract, then a year, and now I am in my second year.

What were you doing in your previous job?

I produced content for a publishing company, and after that a post-production company.

Could you tell us a little bit about your BMX career?

I started riding at sixteen years old.  It totally dominated my life, taking me first to places around my city, then the country, then the continent, and around the world.  I got the travel bug at an early age; loved how you could meet people from all over the world and have such a strong common bond.  I became a pro rider at nineteen and travelled to contests in Europe and America while juggling a full time job.

What is Roundabout?

Roundabout was a clothing company started by me and my best friend.  Really it was an excuse for some friends to go on roadtrips around the country to ride BMX.  We filmed the trips and cover-mounted them on DVD on the UK's biggest BMX magazine.

Do you foresee ever going back?

I still ride my bike as often as possible but there is no chance of me riding in contests again!  I spent lots of vacation time in Austin, Texas where lots of my friends live.  It's a super chilled place with great weather and perfect conditions for riding everyday.

What countries have you traveled to so far with the WTA?

France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Qatar, UAE, China, Japan, Bali, Australia, USA, and Canada.

What has been your favorite destination?

The WTA Championships in Istanbul was one of the best tournaments I've been to.  Bali is hands down the best location, incredible hotel, food, people...just paradise.  I find it hard to chose one destination because everywhere is so different and most locations have something I love.  New York for the US Open is amazing, as is Melbourne.  I'd probably say the Australian Open is my favourite destination, but that's party because it's so fresh in my mind.  I'm fickle with my destination love but this year was really special.

Could you tell us a little bit about some of the personalities of the WTA players? What are they like off-court?

Life on the road is hard, I think its easy to forget that when you come home everyday.  The most important thing I've learnt being on tour is how tough a lack of routine can be.  When you go on vacation for a couple of weeks it is fun, it's an adventure finding a good breakfast spot.  When you do that everyday for six months it loses it's appeal slightly.  The pressure of having the basics of eating and drinking so up in the air, and then having to perform on the tennis court has given me a huge amount of respect for the players. They're all so strong mentally, their confidence off the court is pretty aspirational. 

What is your day-to-day routine on the tour?

Getting up early, usually wandering about the city for an hour, breakfast, then to site.  A day during media involves lots of waiting around.  Normal days I don't get time to breath.  The evenings usually involve me trying to make the most of the night life of whichever city I'm in!

What has been your favorite experience on the tour so far?

The WTA Championships in Turkey was one of my favourite experiences.  It was so good to see how the fans embraced it.  They filled the venue, made signs, cheered for both sides.  When that happens the players feel the energy and it makes for such a great tournament.  Favourite experience?  I often book a few days in a location before or after the tournament so I get to explore.  In 2010 I stayed in Bali for a few days afterwards and flew to the next island to shoot an erupting volcano.  It was so exciting.  I set up timelapses to shoot the eruptions and rented a moped to go riding up the mountain.  It was a super fun experience.  I also ventured out to shoot the hurricane during US Open last year.  I suppose I like taking risks...

Merapi Volcano - Yogjakarta, Indonesia - Eruption Timelapse from Robin Fenlon on Vimeo.

I've heard that youʼve taken up tennis, are you any good?

My tennis teacher says I'm good when I concentrate, but I'm trying to be too much of a show off.  Monfils is my on court role model.  My lasso forehand is particularly good and is going to win me some points this year.

Do you think you could live the life of a professional tennis player? 

I could definitely live the life!  I don't have the dedication or discipline to be a champion, but I adore the travel and the camaraderie of an industry that travels together.  Plus apparently I'm not tall enough...

What is your favorite photograph that youʼve taken so far?

It's not a tennis photo!  It's a shot from a hot air balloon ride I took over Melbourne in 2010.

What is your favorite video youʼve shot on tour?

Aga Radwanska hitting me in the head with a golf ball...

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Lying on a beach sipping Tequila Sunrises...

OnTheGoTennis Quick Q & A

What is your biggest pet peeve? 

Bitterness.  Excess baggage fees.

What are you most afraid of?


Do you have any lucky charms? 

I have a small Globe that I travel everywhere with.

Do you have any guilty pleasures? 

All of them...

What is your favorite movie?

Point Break.

What is your favorite food?


What is your favorite city?

Austin, TX.  London, England.  Los Angeles, CA.

What is your favorite type of music?

Electronic or Arcade Fire.

What is the last thing that you read?

Split Second Persuasion by Kevin Dutton.

What is your most embarrassing moment? 

In Sydney this year I went to the courts super early so nobody would be there, trying to have a hit with a colleague, and Caroline and her entourage rolled up.  I retreated rather quickly.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Sienna Miller.

If there was a fire and you could only save one thing (not a person), what would you save?


If you had one superhero ability, what would it be?


Either/Or Questions the one in BOLD is the one he chose.

Facebook or Twitter

Coke or Pepsi

Blond or Brunette

Shower or Bath

Boxer or Briefs - Neither

Would you rather lose your hair or your teeth -Teeth. I'm English...

Dog or Cat

Beer or Wine

Oceans or Mountains

Money or Fame 

Vampires or Werewolves 

Sweet or Salty

Now or Later - Now!

To follow Robin on Twitter, click here.

Photos and videos courtesy of Robin Fenlon

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