‘One night our neighbour was the victim of a carjacking’: How crime in South Africa sent baby Cameron Norrie on his journey to the Centre Court at Wimbledon, as he prepares to face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals
- British No 1 Cameron Norrie will face Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon semi-finals
- Norrie’s journey to Centre Court stardom had a fascinating beginning
- His father and mother had settled in Johannesburg until emigrating to Australia
- Norrie then moved to London at 16, before attending university in Texas, USA
The circuitous journey of Cam Norrie to Centre Court stardom began with a shocking crime in South Africa.
His father David and mother Helen had settled in Johannesburg in their work as microbiologists before the plight of a neighbour led to them emigrating when the future British No 1 was a baby.
The family moved to Auckland before their son came to London at 16, prior to a spell attending university in Texas.
The journey of Cam Norrie to Centre Court began with a shocking crime in South Africa
‘We lived in a sort of complex with barbed wire electric fencing, there was an automated gate as you drove up,’ recalls David, originally from Glasgow, unmistakenly so with his accent.
‘One night our neighbour was the victim of a carjacking. He had a gun put to his head and there was a baby in the back of the car.
‘We sort of decided at that point that this was not the place to bring up kids and started making plans to emigrate. We had lots of friends who had been burgled.
His father David (pictured, left) and mother Helen originally had settled in Johannesburg
‘Moving somewhere like New Zealand, we looked at the change to a very active lifestyle.
‘It was one of the best decisions we made in terms of space and where to bring up a family. If we had stayed in South Africa I guess things might have worked out differently.’
With David a keen squash player and his wife an enthusiastic runner, they soon found they had a sporty offspring, who among other things was competing at regional cross-country events.
‘He was always a good runner, and good at cricket, football, table tennis as well as tennis,’ remembers David.
‘You don’t know how good he might have been but he was a good cross-country runner, he could go for a long time at quite a good pace.’
The family moved to Auckland before their son came to London at 16, before heading to USA
Novak Djokovic has not lost at Wimbledon since retiring injured in the 2017 quarter finals
After the pandemic hit they didn’t see Cam for almost two years. New Zealand was cut off, and it was only at the Italian Open in May that they finally got to see him again.
‘It was rough,’ admits Norrie Snr. ‘It was pretty emotional when we met up again in Rome but it was just nice to see him.
‘We wanted to stay in Europe for a couple of months because we hadn’t seen Cam for so long.
‘There’s hardly anyone flying to New Zealand at the moment so the fares back are absolutely horrendous. We cancelled our flights but we aren’t going to be making any plans until after Friday anyway.’
Norrie advanced to his first Wimbledon semi final with a five set victory over David Goffin
Although he will face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, Norrie is yet to be made a member of the All England Club, whose reserved seats on Centre Court have been controversially empty on many occasions this fortnight.
‘He’s still waiting, I don’t know the inner workings of the club but he hasn’t got membership yet,’ says his father.
‘I think Andy (Murray) proposed him but they work at a different pace, so we’ll see.’
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