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Who is Emma Raducanu? The 18-year-old US Open champion

The Independent logo The Independent 20/12/2021 Jonathan Veal

Emma Raducanu’s stunning run on her first appearance at the US Open finished in glorious fashion as she became Britain’s first female singles Grand Slam champion for 44 years, beating Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in the final.’

The teenager had already made waves with a dominant victory over Shelby Rogers, becoming the youngest British player to reach the last eight in New York in the Open era in the process, where she also beat Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic.

Raducanu was an unknown wildcard at the All England Club, ranked world number 338, and had only just completed her A-Levels but progressed to the second week of the tournament, where she eventually had to retire in heart-breaking circumstances when she suffered breathing difficulties as she trailed Ajla Tomljanovic.

The Londoner has gained further experience of life on the professional tour following her breakthrough at Wimbledon and says she is playing the best tennis of her life at Flushing Meadows. “From my own perspective, I’m playing better tennis here than I did at Wimbledon,” she said. “Being on the hard courts, they’re less forgiving than the grass. But I think with the amount of matches I’ve played and the experience that I have accumulated in the last four or five weeks, my game is just getting better and better with each match.”

Here, we take a closer look at the next rising star of British tennis:

Educating Emma

Before breaking onto centre stage at Wimbledon, the focus of Raducanu’s summer were her A-Level results. The teenager has been combining her studies with her tennis over the last 12 months, choosing not to travel to lower-level tournaments abroad, and sat exams in maths and economics at Newstead School. Despite receiving an A in maths and an A* in economics, Raducanu insists she is focused on a career in tennis.

Mixed heritage

Raducanu was actually born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two. Although she has lived in London, she has fond memories of going to see her grandmother in Romania. She said: “My grandma, Mamiya, still lives in central Bucharest. I go back a couple times a year, stay with her, see her. It’s really nice. I love the food, to be honest. I mean, the food is unbelievable. And my grandma’s cooking is also something special. I do have ties to Bucharest.”

A sporting youth

a woman hitting a ball with a racquet:  (PA Wire) © Provided by The Independent (PA Wire)

It was perhaps inevitable Raducanu would have a career in professional sport, given the way her father pushed her as a youngster. She started off attending ballet classes, but her father decided sport was the way forward and had his daughter do horse riding, swimming, tap dancing, basketball, skiing, golf, go-karting and motocross, all alongside her tennis practice.

Video: US Open champion Emma Raducanu crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year (Evening Standard)


A recent debut

It is incredible to think that Raducanu only made her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in May at the Nottingham Open. She lost 6-4 6-3 to compatriot Harriet Dart in the first round before making the quarter-finals of a lower-level tournament at the same venue the following week. That persuaded Wimbledon to offer her a wild card into the main draw and the rest is history.

Success at an early age

She has some sort of form at Wimbledon, having made it to the 2018 juniors quarter-finals where she came up against future French Open winner Iga Swiatek Raducanu followed that up with a run to the same stage of the US Open juniors a few months later. She won the first ITF junior title she was allowed to compete in, aged just 13.

Sports Personality

Raducanu hailed the “insane” support she has received in 2021 after capping an incredible 12 months by being voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.

Raducanu, who was isolating in Abu Dhabi after testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival in the United Arab Emirates last week, told the BBC: “It’s such an honour just to be among these nominees – to win it is pretty amazing.

“I watched Sports Personality of the Year growing up, so I’m really humbled to join the amazing past winners – I’m also really happy for British tennis that we managed to get this award again.

“All the support I’ve received this past year has been absolutely insane, and the energy I felt at Wimbledon this year playing in front of my home crowd is something I’ve never felt before.”

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