Emma Raducanu is the name of the new British tennis hope. After reaching the round of 16 at the Grand Slam premiere in Wimbledon, the 18-year-old storms into the quarter-finals at the US Open in New York.
Emma Raducanu was in demand on Monday. The media room in the catacombs of Arthur Ashe Stadium filled up like seldom these days when the number 150 in the world appeared in front of the world press after beating Shelby Rogers. Raducanu answered questions from reporters for the New York Times, the Telegraph and the Sun with confidence and a smile. It seemed as if the question and answer game for the teenager was the most normal thing in the world, although the British had only made her debut on the WTA tour in Nottingham three months ago.
In Flushing Meadows, Raducanu seamlessly builds on her performance at Wimbledon and proves that her summer fairy tale at the All England Club was no one-day flyer. The 18-year-old had triggered a hype there when she – as number 338 in the ranking with a wildcard – stormed into the round of 16 at her Grand Slam premiere, where it came to the anticlimax. Against Ajla Tomljanovic, Raducanu gave up in the second set due to breathing problems on the advice of the doctors.
Escaped the hustle and bustle
But Raducanu was suddenly on everyone’s lips on the island, which opened doors for the sports-loving teenager. She attended the soccer championship semi-final at Wembley between England and Denmark and paid a VIP visit to the Silverstone Grand Prix in Formula 1. It was only in the USA that she was able to escape the hustle and bustle a little.
For six weeks now she has been traveling through the land of once unlimited possibilities. She visited San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge, played in San Jose before celebrating her first hard court win in Chicago. But it only really got off to a good start in New York. As a qualifier, she won all seven games without losing a set, and Stefanie Vögele also had no chance in the opening round against the Briton.
In the Big Apple, the daughter of a Romanian and a Chinese woman is one of the crowd’s favorites. After her victory in the round of 16, signatures and selfies with the Canadian-born Raducanu were in great demand both on the pitch and later on the course. London, Toronto, Bucharest, Shenyang is the name of the cosmopolitan Instagram profile, which is followed by almost half a million users – the trend is rising.
Americans especially like Cinderella stories. Only a few months ago Raducanu had written her theses in mathematics and economics and played her first game on the tour, with a win against Bencic she would knock on the top 50 of the WTA rankings. And the tournament is not over yet.
The sky as a limit
To speak of a child prodigy would be out of place, however. Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Tracy Austin won their first Grand Slam tournament before their 17th birthday. And Raducanu’s next adversary, Belinda Bencic, was 16 months younger than the British when she reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final in 2014 – also in New York.
Those days are over. The sport is becoming more and more athletic, the tip also getting wider and wider for women. Cori Gauff, hailed as the next Serena Williams, who was already well-known in the tennis world as a 13-year-old, also found at this year’s US Open that the trees are not growing into the sky.
British tennis is also longing for a new figurehead. “The sky is the limit,” said Raducanus coach Nigel Sears in Wimbledon about his protégé. The words of Andy Murray’s father-in-law stir up hopes in the proud tennis nation. Johanna Konta and Heather Watson are both around 30, Daniel Evans, Cameron Norrie and Kyle Edmund lack that certain something to play for the big titles one day. And Andy Murray’s career is coming to an end. Emma Raducanu is just at the right place.