She’s won a Grand Slam title, risen to be one of the country’s most recognisable young sports personalities and is still only 19.
Emma Raducanu is only writing the first chapter in her career, but plenty of people have been waiting to suggest she’s already peaked. Disappointing second-round exits at the Australian and French Open left people queueing up to label her a one-hit wonder, with respected outlets such as The Spectator posing the question as she went into this year’s Wimbledon event.
After a straight-sets win in the first round against Alison Van Uytvanck, she faced Caroline Garcia of France. The tables were swiftly turned, and The Guardian reports she was on the end of a straight-sets defeat, unable to have the same impact she had at Flushing Meadows last year. She’s tumbled down the favourites for the US Open in the Coral betting odds and faces fresh questions about how much pressure she feels. However, the teenager is not acknowledging any pressure on her at this early stage of her career.
“There’s no pressure,” she said in her post-match interview. “Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. Like, it’s a joke. I literally won a Slam.”
Instead, she focused on heading back to New York this summer, and on her ability to bounce back from the injury that almost ruled her out of only her second Wimbledon appearance.
“Going back to New York, it’s going to be cool because I have got a lot of experiences playing on big courts, playing with people in the stadium, playing with the spotlight on you. I don’t mind that. I mean, for me, everything is learning. I’m embracing every single moment that is thrown at me.
“I declared myself fully fit when I walked out onto the court on the first day. But I’ve played seven hours of tennis in a month. To even compete with these girls at this level and win a round I think is a pretty good achievement.”
Johanna Konta knows exactly where Raducanu is coming from; she too was British number one and was a Grand Slam semi-finalist in 2016 (Australia), 2017 (Wimbledon) and 2019 (France). She ascended to World Number four in 2017 and thinks her fellow Brit has every right to label the question a joke.
“She definitely presents modern maturity in her knowledge about herself and what she wants to do and the direction she wants to go. What she said is a fact, she is a Grand Slam champion and she’s 19 years old so they’re literally just facts that she said.
“She has every right to say these facts. In terms of pressure, again pressure is very much absorbed and dealt with individually.”
Emma Raducanu has a long and hopefully successful career ahead of her, and she set the bar high at the US Open. She won the competition without dropping a single set, coming from nowhere to surprise the tennis world. Since then, she’s suffered from a change of coach and niggly injuries, which have prevented her from pressing on. However, at just 19, it is unfair and inaccurate to question her ability to handle the pressure.
Ironically, her mature and calm rebuke of such questions only serves to underline exactly how she does deal with pressure, and hopefully, that means once she puts her injuries behind her, she can begin to prove some of her critics wrong.