Just weeks after Emma Raducanu became an overnight sensation following her US Open win, sports fans are applauding another thrilling – and unlikely – victory by another unknown British tennis star.
Dashing Cameron Norrie, 26, became British No. 1 after winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, over the weekend, marking the first time a British player has ever won the tournament.
Watching from the stands was his girlfriend Louise Jacobi, a glamorous textiles designer who congratulated her beau with a kiss on the court.
Certainly the couple have plenty to celebrate: as well as his new ranking and historic tournament win, Norrie took home an £880,000 cash prize.
But the new poster boy of British tennis, who has been described as ‘a great example’ by his role model and former British No. 1 Sir Andy Murray, has had a decidedly international upbringing, spending time in South Africa, New Zealand and the US.
Evidence of this jet-set life can be heard in his transcontinental accent, which Norrie himself admits can be difficult to place. Yet Norrie insists he feels British through and through.
‘I consider myself British,’ he previously said. ‘Both my parents are British. My mum is Welsh and my dad is Scottish, with a filthy Scottish accent.’
No.1 fan! Cameron Norrie, 26, today became British No 1 after winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, marking the first time a British player has ever won the tournament. Watching his nail-biting final was his girlfriend, Louise Jacobi who kissed him after the match
Proud: Cameron is the son of microbiologists David Norrie, from Scotland, and his Welsh wife, Helen. The couple, pictured with Cameron and daughter Bronwen, live in New Zealand
Glamorous girlfriend: Watching from the stands was his girlfriend Louise Jacobi, pictured left and right, a textiles designer who studied at London’s prestigious Central St Martins
Jet-set: The couple, who have been together since at least 2019 have travelled the world together. Pictured, Cameron and Louise soak up the sun on a beach in an Instagram snap
Norrie is the son of Glasgow-born David Norrie and his wife, Helen, who is originally from Cardiff.
The couple, who are both microbiologists, spent the first three years of their son’s life in Johannesburg, South Africa, before relocating to Auckland, New Zealand, after a ‘traumatic’ burglary incident.
They raised Cameron and their daughter Bronwen there, giving the two children the benefit of an active, outdoorsy lifestyle.
Indeed it was Helen, an accomplished long-distance runner in her youth, who first introduced her son to tennis, handing him a sawn-off squash racquet so he could hit a ball around in the driveway of the family home.
Racquet sports run in the blood. Father David is a former British universities No 1 squash player, while Helen also played the sport to university level.
His talents were spotted at an early age by former UK-born New Zealand tennis player and former Davis Cup captain James Greenhalgh at the Auckland Tennis Academy.
Scottish roots: Cameron with his father David, on a visit back to his hometown of Glasgow
Close: Cameron with his mother Helen in France, left, and sister Bronwen in New Zealand
Mutual respect: Norrie, right, with Sir Andy Murray, who has praised his ‘phenomenal’ win
The rising star represented New Zealand as a junior, reaching world No. 10.
But there was a lack of funding from Tennis NZ, meaning Helen and David had to pay for most of their son’s expenses and overseas tournaments.
‘Cameron got a bit of money, but not much,’ Helen said in a 2017 interview. ‘And basically we’ve done this all ourselves with Auckland Tennis backing us.’
At 16 Cameron, who supports South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League team, the All Blacks rugby team and Newcastle United in football, moved to London to train full-time at the National Tennis Centre, in south west London.
The following year he switched to representing the UK.
‘I wasn’t used to playing so much tennis,’ he said in 2017 of his time at the NTC. ‘It was good but I just wasn’t used to it. The LTA gave me a lot of help and a lot of coaching, and it was just too much for me to take on board. Everything was about tennis and I wasn’t used to that.’
Tea for two: Cameron and Louise spent time in London over Christmas, pictured
Loved-up: Proud Louise posts supportive posts for Cameron on her Instagram, as pictured
By his side: Louise watched Cameron as he claimed another victory in the US in recent weeks
In search of a more ‘normal and balanced life’, Cameron enrolled at Texas Christian University in 2014 on a sociology scholarship but admits he was ‘more focused’ on his sport.
He continued: ‘I was just burnt out from tennis a bit after the juniors and I felt like I wanted to do something else. College helped me learn to love the game again.’
In 2017 Norrie, then the top-ranked college tennis player in the US, turned pro.
Just eight months later he won his debut Davis Cup match against then world No.23 Roberto Bautista-Agut in what was described as ‘one of the most impressive debuts of all time’ by former Davis Cup captain John Lloyd.
On the tennis circuit he has become friendly with fellow British tennis poster boy Sir Andy, who made time to train with Norrie when he made his senior debut at Wimbledon in 2017.
‘He’s such a great role model and at such a high level that it kind of rubs off on you,’ Norrie said at the time.
Now it is Sir Andy who is praising Norrie, saying after his win: ‘I’d be lying if I said that I called that to be honest. However, I have spent a decent amount of time around him and practised with him quite a lot and he works extremely hard.
‘I think he’s a great example for not just British players but all tennis players to look at and go, if you put the effort in day in, day out and properly dedicate yourself to the sport, have an attitude like he does, it can take you a long, long way.’
Humble winner: Cameron Norrie beat Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia after the men’s final at the BNP Paribas Open in India Wells, becoming the first British player to manage the feat
Thumbs up! The new UK No.1 celebrated after taking home an £880,000 cash prize
When Covid hit last year, Norrie packed up and moved back home to New Zealand for six months.
‘I took six weeks off from tennis, but I think that helped me in a way getting to relax and live the simple life, not really playing but doing fitness,’ Norrie said. It proved a helpful advantage in a year when many of his fellow British tennis stars had their own training hampered by lockdown restrictions.
‘I started to practise towards the end when there were no cases in New Zealand, so I maybe got two weeks’ advantage on some of the British guys… It was a good time for me in New Zealand. I felt really good being with my parents, catching up with them and making the best of a tough situation.’
Norrie, who is now based in Putney, south west London, has come back to tennis stronger than ever, securing his biggest victory to date at Indian Wells. The tournament is known as the ‘fifth Open’ and is an important date in the tennis calendar.
Taking on Federer: Norrie gets the crowd going in his third round match at Wimbledon in July
Like Raducanu he did not have beat a top 10 player to win what was his biggest title from six finals in 2021. But the achievement should not be underestimated.
‘It means so much to me, I’m so happy I can’t really describe it now,’ he said after a 109-minute win. ‘It’s amazing. If you had told me I would have won before the tournament started, I wouldn’t have believed you.
‘It was quite windy and at the early stage he hit so many winners it was hard for me to get confidence on my rally balls.
‘I got my feet going and made the rallies physical like I’ve been doing here. I’ve been competing in the big moments, that’s something I’ve been doing much better this year.’
Although Norrie has previously said he is happy to play without winning major prize money, there is doubt the £880,000 he takes away from the weekend will make a big difference.
Big hug! Girlfriend Louise was on hand to celebrate with Cameron following his win
On the cards might be a blowout celebration with Louise, who gushed about her boyfriend’s win: ‘Sometimes you wonder if it even really happened. Don’t worry. It did!,’ with a photo of him raising the trophy.
It is not known how the couple met but they appear on each other’s Instagram accounts as far back as 2019.
Louise, who has worked for Calvin Klein as a textiles designer and now works as a textiles consultant for New York-based Please Don’t Touch, is a graduate of the prestigious Central St Martins in London, making it possible the couple met in the capital.
The lithe 20-something posts about her travels on Instagram, including her romantic getaways with Norrie.
Next up on the player’s schedule is a trio of indoor matches in Europe as he tries to seal his place in the season-end finale.
One thing is for certain: the eyes of the UK will now be on Cameron Norrie in a way they have never been before.