Emma Raducanu under pressure to deliver at Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu is set to return to the grass at Wimbledon next week as a Grand Slam winner – under pressure to end Britain’s 45-year wait for a women’s singles champion. The teenager caught the eye during her run to the last 16 at the All England Club 12 months ago before pulling out of her game against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic due to breathing difficulties.
But her Wimbledon debut was just the prelude to a stunning triumph at the US Open in early September, where she beat Leylah Fernandez in the final.
Qualified Raducanu did not drop a set at Flushing Meadows, becoming the first British player to win a Grand Slam singles crown since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
The win propelled her to global stardom, with endorsement deals piling up as she enjoyed her incredible success in New York.
It hasn’t been easy for the 19-year-old, currently ranked 11th in the world, who hasn’t won more than two matches in a tournament since.
Raducanu has come under scrutiny for his inability to settle on a long-term coach and has also struggled with fitness issues, as well as a coronavirus crisis.
But despite his early exits at the Australian Open and French Open, the pressure at his home Grand Slam is bound to be intense.
Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion in 2013, repeating the feat three years later.
45 years of waiting
But Wade’s triumph at Wimbledon in Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee year remains the last time a British woman won at the All England Club.
Raducanu’s preparations for Wimbledon suffered a major blow when she was forced to withdraw from her first round match in Nottingham against Viktorija Golubic earlier this month.
The British number one, who is listed as the 10th seed at Wimbledon, later withdrew from the WTA event in Birmingham and did not appear at Eastbourne.
That leaves him with less than one lawn tennis game under his belt heading into Wimbledon.
Raducanu sparked more fears over her recovery from a side strain when she pulled out of a scheduled second training session with Garbine Muguruza on Friday.
Earlier this month she admitted she had done things ‘in reverse’ by winning a Grand Slam so early in her career as she settled into life as a full-time professional .
“For that to happen very soon, there are definitely a lot of challenges,” she said.
“But managing, learning and growing through the adversities I’ve faced, I would much rather do that, learn from those experiences and keep building and growing.”
Retired British player Tim Henman, who sat courtside during Raducanu’s run for the US Open title, advised her on how to handle being the homegrown star at Wimbledon.
“What is said in the newspapers, on social media or on television, you can’t control it, so why worry about it?” said the former Wimbledon semi-finalist.
“When you’re young and you haven’t had the experience it’s not always easy but, when I think of her mental toughness with the way she played in New York for those 10 games, she’s incredibly strong mentally,” he said. told the PA news agency.
“Her tennis ability is there for everyone. The challenge for her is to develop that physical toughness. But she’s 19, she has so many opportunities ahead of her.”
World number four Paula Badosa has urged British fans to take the pressure off Raducanu, backing her as she adjusts to life on the WTA Tour.
“She needs time and she needs more touring experience and she’ll get it. People need to stop putting all this pressure and expectation on her,” she said.
“What she did was play a Grand Slam really well and she won it, so you can see how good she is.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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