IT has been a mad but memorable couple of weeks for Laura Massaro – the newly crowned women’s world squash champion.
Since lifting the trophy in Penang on March 23, Massaro has been swamped by national media attention and well wishers – one neighbour even baking her a cake.
Massaro, normally such a stickler for routine and regime, has afforded herself a few days off to deal with all the attention. But really, she has had no choice.
“It’s been incredible,” said the 30-year-old who now proudly holds the World Championship and British Open titles – the first British woman to achieve such the feat at the same time.
“I have had people coming up to me to say well done, cards through the post and I have never had so many messages.
“My phone has been going non-stop.
“One neighbour knocked on the door earlier this week and she had baked me a cake. A three-tier carrot cake, how ridiculous is that!
“It has been unbelievable.”
The world number two admits she has been shocked by all the attention but is now looking forward to getting back into the old routine.
“I’ve cut myself a little bit of slack,” added Massaro who was also crowned world player of the year on the eve of the World Championships.
“I’ve been enjoying the moment for three or four days before I start building up my training next week.”
Massaro blames Nick Matthews – her fellow Brit and fellow world champion – for paving the way for her moment in the spotlight.
She said: “Everyone is thinking I am getting more publicity than Nick got when he won his world title but it is because of Nick that I am now getting that attention.”
However, it was Massaro herself who earned the right of prime time radio slots and a place on the breakfast TV sofa after beating Nour El Sherbini in a thrilling final.
While Massaro rates it as her toughest ever match, her title success was down to a dramatic comeback against home favourite Low Wee Wern in the quarter finals.
“You look back at tournaments and wonder if there were turning points and that match was it,” said Massaro who saved four match-balls before winning in five gruelling games. “It was unbelievable. The home crowd were completely behind her. But I just felt relaxed at that point.”
Relaxing was the furthest thing from Massaro’s mind in the final. With world number one and seven time champion Nicol David knocked out in the semi final, Massaro was suddenly the favourite to win against 18-year-old El Sherbini.
“It was a whole new experience for me,” she said. “Although Nour had been playing really well I had never lost to her so in my head it would have been mine to lose.
“That is why it was so hard to prepare for the final and why I was so nervous.”
Massaro is just about coming to terms with being world champion and British Open winner at the same time.
“Being the first British person to hold the British and World titles at the first time is just crazy,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t know that before I went in.
“You have very little control over the world player of the year because that is something you can’t win you are just awarded it.
“That is really special to be awarded that by someone else but it is a bit different to winning it.”
After winning the World Championship, Massaro was in no mood to let the trophy out of her sight, leaving Malaysia without it getting engraved.
“They gave me the choice, I could leave it and have it engraved or I could take it with me,” she said.
“So I took it with me. Saying that, the trophy flew back business class and I was stuck in economy!”