Emma Raducanu is the talk of tennis after the 18-year-old ended Britain’s 44-year wait for a women’s Grand Slam singles champion. The Bromley-raised teenager won the US Open on Saturday night and is being tipped to become one of sport’s biggest names. Here we provide the lowdown on her amazing achievement.
There might be plenty of other huge days and nights for Raducanu, but the manner of her US Open success will arguably never be topped.
She is the first qualifier in the Open era to win a Slam and also the youngest Brit to achieve the feat.
Raducanu is also the youngest women’s Slam champion since Maria Sharapova – at Wimbledon – in 2004.
SET FOR GREATNESS
The last woman to win the US Open without dropping a set was Serena Williams, in 2014.
It’s hard to believe now that Raducanu had a flight booked back to the UK in the event she did not come through qualifying.
She played 10 matches – three of those qualifiers. The most games she lost in a set were five, in her second qualifier against Mariam Bolkvadze.
Raducanu coped with the pressure, and weight of expectation, with a 6-4 6-3 win over Laylah Fernandez in the final at Flushing Meadows.
SOUTH LONDON ROOTS
Raducanu was born in Toronto, Canada but moved to England at the age of two. She started playing for Parklangley Club when she was six years old. Some of her old coaches at the Beckenham club gathered in the bar to watch their former charge become the first British woman to win a Slam final since Virginia Wade in 1977.
“Three months ago I was sat doing my A levels. I’ve played an incredible amount of matches in the last four, five weeks . We were joking to make this a three-week trip in New York – and it has been. Now we rest, recover and then we go again…that’s what we do.
“I feel like I’m still very hungry and I’ve got a lot of aspects in my game I feel I can improve. I’ve got a lot of work to do when I get back.
“I don’t feel absolutely any pressure. I’m still only 18 and I’m just having a free swing at anything that comes my way. That’s how I faced every match here in the States. It got me this trophy, so I don’t think I should change anything.”
The Queen was quick to praise Raducanu after her US Open victory: “I send my congratulations to you on your success. It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication.”
Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 major women’s doubles titles, said: “She is a spectacular tennis player and she is going to be a superstar. She has got it all going on – and she will still get better. There are no holes in her game and, at 18, that is extraordinary.”
Virginia Wade, the last Brit to win the US Open in 1968, said: “Let’s face it, Emma is one of a kind.
You’ve got to constantly be looking at what your immediate goals are and it’s pretty challenging when you’ve reached one of your dreams in step one.”
Raducanu’s US Open win saw her pick up $2.5million in prize money. But that figure is set to be dwarfed by the lucrative sponsorship deals that will be a formality after such a huge sporting success.
Naomi Osaka earned $3.4m in prize money in 2020 but her sponsorship deals rocketed her annual earnings to $37.4m – the highest-paid female athlete in the world. Tennis dominates that list with Serena Williams at number two ($36m). Nine of the top 10 last year came from that sport, the only exception was Alex Morgan, co-captain of the USA football team, at $4.6m.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Raducanu’s next scheduled event is qualifying for the WTA event in Chicago at the end of this month.
Her world ranking has jumped from 150th to 23rd since Monday, but entry into tournaments closes a number of weeks before the competition.
There is also set to be speculation over her coaching set-up. She split from Nigel Sears after Wimbledon and was under the tutelage of Andrew Richardson in the States.
Bookmakers have made Raducanu the favourite to be BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The last woman to lift that trophy was Zara Phillips in 2006.
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