Even though she was not yet a teenager, Emma Raducanu had to make a big decision about her future in sports. Was professional tennis player the right career aspiration for the talented sportswoman? Was the hope of a grand slam title just a dream or the pinnacle of a long path paved by hard-work and determination?
Her father Ian encouraged her to take up a variety of sports when he was growing up. Her favourites were horseback riding, swimming and motocross while displaying a natural aptitude for racket sports.
She was into motorsports but could not continue as she progressed further into her tennis career but she made the right choice. Five years later after taking up the sport seriously, the 18-year-old reached and won that Grand Slam final.
As an emerging star, she executes her skills with a steely composure and has a lively personality that is endearing to fans all over the globe and become the new darling of the international tennis federation circuit.
Having surged on to the professional scene in July, she surpassed that achievement of reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon when she won the US Open in only her fourth tour-level tournament.
The Parental Influence
Born in Toronto, Canada and raised in London, England, Emma Raducanu’s rise to success has been widely influenced by her Chinese mother Renee and Romanian father Ian, who both work in the finance sector.
At the age of five, she started playing tennis at the Bromley Tennis Academy. She progressed through the age groups until she was noticed by the Lawn Tennis Association. They took her under their wing and she has remained with them ever since.
Her success is very much a credit to her parents who have given her the utmost support possible. And, she credits them with teaching her to always keep a level head in tough situations and not to get caught up in the moment.
“I think that the calmness and the mental strength definitely comes from my upbringing,” she said this week.
“I think my parents have both instilled in me from a very young age to definitely have a positive attitude on court.”
Emma Raducanu’s shock run in New York has had a downside – her parents were not able to see any of her matches in person. They were not able to see her in New York because of the strict travel restrictions to the United States.
Making The Tough Career Decisions
The British teenager was given a wildcard to play at Wimbledon after being tipped for stardom by those within the British tennis community. As she faced her second tour-level event, with a world ranking of 336, she took everything in her stride and amazingly made it to the last 16.
However, she experienced a troubling moment on the court when she was started to experience dizziness and some breathing difficulties when trailing 6-4 3-0 against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.
After the match, Raducanu talked about how she needed to improve on the physical aspects of her game.
“I haven’t done much work relative to these other girls who have been on tour for 10 years,” she said almost three weeks ago.
“Then to be playing the intensity I was at for a couple of weeks in a row, it was something completely new to me.”
It was achieved by practising more hours per week and playing more competitive matches leading up to the US Open. She reached the quarter-finals of an ITF Tour event in Pennsylvania, the finals of a WTA Challenger event in Chicago and then at Flushing Meadows, came through three rounds of qualifying.
Another big factor in her physical improvements has been the addition of physio Will Herbert into her team who has been named the “mechanic”. He was a former trainer with German men’s world number four seeded player Alexander Zverev and former British number one Kyle Edmund.
After her breakthrough performance at the Wimbledon Championships, Emma Raducanu returned to her coach Andrew Richardson who worked with her before she hit her teenage years – after being coached by the well renowned Nigel Sears during Wimbledon.
Sears, who is known for coaching Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic (former top-ranked players), stated that Emma wanted someone new to look at how she played on the court. She has had the advantage of gaining a vast amount of knowledge from a variety of coaches as she looks to build of own identity on the court.
“Emma is a sponge. She learns so quickly,” said British doubles player Naomi Broady. “She does all her match scouting as well, she loves it. She enjoys the educational side of tennis.”
Is Emma Raducanu a Future Big Tennis Star?
Yes, but she should not have too much expectation placed upon her. The Head of British Women’s Tennis, Iain Bates said it’s important for her to “live in the now” and not get too wrapped up in predictions of her future.
There are no guarantees for talented young players. Look at Britain’s Laura Robson, who reached the fourth round of the 2012 US Open as an 18-year-old but had her career derailed by injuries. Ex-Grand Slam champions Virginia Wade and Martina Navratilova say Raducanu has a good chance of winning multiple Grand Slam titles if she stays healthy.
“When you see that kind of talent, that won’t be denied. The only thing that could deny is her body,” said Czech-American Navratilova.
Virginia Wade, the last British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, agrees that Raducanu will win a lot of titles but she will be sharing her titles with women in her sport that could dominate in the game.
Andy Murray, who won his first major title at the 2012 US Open at 25 years, has spoken highly of the teenager and has stated that her attitude and work ethic on and off the court has been at a high level and that she was a credit to the women’s game.
A Mature Teenager Set For The Big Stage
Tennis fans and media are always on the lookout for the next big thing in tennis. And, with the right blend of talent, personality and media attention, they may have found their star.
Uninhibited, effervescent and unfailingly polite, Raducanu is comfortable in the sports spotlight, as her many interviews prove. She’s so good at it, she makes it look easy. Interacting with her fans after her big wins have always been enjoyable for her, and her smiles have always been infectious.
She has also jokingly made statements about not missing her parents because it’s every teenager’s dream to venture into New York without them. She possesses a calm, relaxed and fun personality off the court which can only help her positively throughout her career.
“One of the things I’ve been hugely impressed with is how calm she is and how she is taking it all in her stride,” added the Lawn Tennis Association’s Bates.
“I can’t explain how important it is,” Wade said. “It is the absolute thrill of someone who you can hopefully depend on and enjoying watching. She has been an inspiration.
Wade further mentioned that girls a very mature at 18 and that Raducanu will be able to handle anything in her career, but there will be a lot to handle.