Laura Massaro became the 2013 World Champion, after she defeated Nour El Sherbini in the final in Penang, Malaysia.
For the Englishwoman, it is something that she will always be proud of.
“It is not just about what you feel like in that moment, but it is what you feel like for the rest of your career knowing that you have got that one under your belt,” Massaro said.
“This is the one event that transcends the sport and it is the one thing that gets you the media attention. It is the one thing that everybody understands when you are introduced, even more so than perhaps being No.1.”
Most players start their careers dreaming of lifting the sport’s pinnacle title, but it wasn’t always the first thought in Massaro’s mind, especially when she was starting out in the game.
“For me, an early part of my career was just about getting through qualifying and maybe trying to get a decent win in the first round,” she added.
“I think as my career has grown and I have grown as a player, those expectations have changed through the years and then you go from trying to make quarter finals and then trying to make semi finals and then I think there is a real shift as a player where you actually have to believe that you can win it.”
Ten months before she won the World Championships, Massaro triumphed at the British Open, beating the seven-times (at that point) World Champion, Nicol David in the final.
Massaro beat Nicol David to lift the British Open title in the summer of 2013
She became the first British woman since Lisa Opie in 1991 to lift the iconic title, while her World Champs win the following year saw her become the first Englishwoman to hold both titles at once.
The 2013 Women’s World Championships in Penang was originally scheduled for December before ultimately being postponed until the following April, and Massaro believes that extra wait helped her in the long run.
“In a way, I think the postponement [of the Worlds] helped me process it all. It helped me to build on that British Open win. It helped me to digest it and come through the emotional side of it and then build again.”
Massaro, who now resides in Preston, England, said that she went in to the Worlds with expectations, but it came down to being able to keep calm.
“If I could hold it together for the week, I was in with a chance,” she admitted.
“As the event progressed, I felt like I was playing well. I got through the first couple of round fairly steadily I think but then that is where the experiences as a junior came into play because I played Low Wee Wern from Malaysia, and also Penang, in the quarter finals.
“I saved three match balls in that match and I think that’s when I really thought ‘this could be my week’, because of the whole situation from juniors. The comeback, I think I was 2-1 down against Wee Wern, saved a couple of match balls and ended up winning in five. It felt like things were coming together for me.”
Massaro (r) beat Raneem El Welily in the semi final of the Worlds in 2013
Massaro then beat Egypt’s Raneem El Welily, who was the World No.3 at the time, in the semi final. The Englishwoman came from behind to take the victory, and advance to the final, where it would be a surprise opponent. She also admitted to having the “worst nerves” of her career.
“I was in the final already and Nicol had lost, but that feeling didn’t last very long at all because all of a sudden I realised that I was going into the final of a World Championships as the favourite, and that completely changed my mindset and I say it again, it was the worst night’s sleep I have ever had pre-match,” the former World No.1 said.
“[They were] the worst nerves I have ever had pre-match, and I will never go through that again because I will never be in my first World Championships final again, being the favourite.
“It probably goes down as my proudest event because I was able to handle it all, and although I didn’t have to beat Nicol, which made it a slightly easier draw, the fact that [Nour El] Sherbini knocked her out, and she was under 19 with no pressure on her whatsoever, I still had to go into that final believing that I could win my World Championships.
“That I was favourite to win the World Championships was one of the hardest situations that I have ever been in.
“I guess I just look back with real fondness and I'm really proud of myself for the performance that day.”
When looking back on that victory, Massaro will always feel relieved that she got over the line, and that she can look back on it for the rest of her career.
“A lot of it is ‘thank god I didn’t mess that up, thank god no-one can ever take being World Champion away from me, and it is something that will go with me for the rest of my life,” she explained.
“Even if I win another one, two, three, or even if I don’t win another one, I will always be a World Champion, and that is something that I can be proud of for the rest of my career.
“Whenever I relive talking about the World Championships, that is what comes to mind and what makes me so proud of what I have achieved, and the way I have gone about my squash career. More than anything, that is what has stayed within me, my pride and my team.”
The 2018-19 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family begin on the 23rd February, with Laura Massaro playing Amanda Landers-Murphy in his first round match in Chicago.