“A very bright future”: Praise for Emma Raducanu at the end of the Wimbledon race | Wimbledon

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EMma Raducanu’s gloriously unexpected adventure at Wimbledon ended in sadness on Monday as the 18-year-old from Kent was forced to withdraw from her last 16 game after appearing to hyperventilate on the pitch.

Pushed by a crowded No 1 Court crowd, and with millions of prime-time viewers on BBC One, the A-grade college student began to wince and hold her stomach in the first set of her match against Ajla. Tomljanović, whom she lost 4-6.

At the start of the second set, she was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe, which necessitated a 0-3 medical time-out. While she was being treated, the trainer told her to “take a deep breath, you can do it.” You’re fine. ”Shortly after, it was decided that Raducanu could not continue.

The nerves may have played their part. And that’s understandable. A month ago, Raducanu had never played a match on the main women’s circuit. Now all of a sudden she was center stage as the youngest British woman to reach the fourth round of the Open era.

Speaking after the game, Tomjlanović said she was not 100% sure why Raducanu pulled out, but hinted it was related to anxiety. “I have experienced something similar, but not to this extent,” she said. “I know it’s a real thing. I have spoken to athletes who have been through this. It is not easy.”

John McEnroe, who has won Wimbledon three times, said Raducanu’s retirement could be of great benefit to him going forward. “Maybe it’s no shame that it happened right now when she’s 18. I first played this event when I was 18 and was able to qualify and go in the semifinals and I felt it was overwhelming, the change in my life.

“In a way, I was happy to have lost. It allowed me to be a child. I went to college for a year. I was able to figure out what it was going to take to be successful on the circuit – what that would entail emotionally, mentally, physically.

“I think seeing those expectations drop a bit [will] allow him to take a few deep breaths.

Wimbledon confirmed on Monday evening that Raducanu had retired due to breathing difficulties.

Emma Raducanu is examined by a doctor before leaving the field. Photograph: Tom Jenkins / The Guardian

Despite this defeat, there was still an overwhelming feeling that a new star was forming and capturing the light. After entering Wimbledon ranked 338th in the world and with career earnings of just £ 27,000, Raducanu is leaving after catapulting over 150 places and £ 182,000 more.

Marcel Knobil, founder of the consulting firm Brand Council, thinks this is just the start. “She has so many qualities that brands would love to be associated with,” he said. “She is multicultural, young and successful. And in a post-Brexit scenario, we are looking for someone to represent pride in the UK. She is also very attractive and her appearance matters.

He said Raducanu had already secured sponsorship from sports brands Nike and Wilson and was a solid prospect for the future. “[Fame] can evaporate very quickly, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Especially in a climate where we have been so plunged into the doldrums. We are looking for an opportunity to generate optimism and brands want to be associated with it.

Raducanu’s business interests off the pitch will be represented by Max Eisenbud, one of tennis’s most powerful super agents, who helped former Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova earn up to £ 20million per year in sponsorship.

Raducanu’s run to these championships came as no surprise to Luke Ralph, 18, a school friend who trained with her at the Bromley Tennis Center. He recalled how she practiced her services alone in the dark, at 13 years old.

“She was the kind of person who just had that dedication to do whatever she could, really,” he said. “We were probably just coming home for dinner, wanting to come back and she was just training, so I think that’s a sign of her character, that determination.”

These feelings were echoed by Harry Bushnell, who coached Raducanu at Parklangley Club in Beckenham, Kent, from the age of six to 11. He said: “I have known Emma since she was six years old. She was in the sessions for the youngest and it was very clear, very early on, that she stood out.

Bushnell also paid tribute to his mother, Renee, from China, and his father, Ian, from Romania. “It’s really a well-established machine. It’s a great combination of Ian the dad who is the driving force behind tennis and the mom who is there to say ‘you still have to study’, and it has always worked well. “

Emma's mother Renee Raducanu (right) is comforted as her daughter is helped by the court.
Emma’s mother Renee Raducanu (right) is comforted as her daughter is helped by the court. Photograph: Toby Melville / Reuters

Raducanu, who will be graduating from his bachelor’s degree in math and economics in the coming weeks, has benefited from the Lawn Tennis Association’s 12 Pro scholarship program, which helps provide funding and mentoring to top UK talent.

LTA coach Matt James told The Guardian his remarkable run at Wimbledon was built on even broader foundations. “One of the best things about Emma is that she was exposed to a lot of sports from the start,” he said. “She played golf, ballet, motocross and horseback riding from a young age. This means that when she learns a new skill, she has the ability to figure things out very quickly.

James also said he expects Raducanu’s success this year to inspire the next wave of UK women’s tennis stars. “She has such a good attitude,” he added.

Those sentiments were echoed by LTA’s head of women’s tennis, Iain Bates, but he also urged his fans to keep things in perspective. “It was Emma’s first Wimbledon and she only played her first game on tour three weeks ago,” he said. “But all the evidence we’ve seen this week suggests she has a very bright future.”



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