The Chronicle

Raducanu goes to top of class


SCHOOL-LEAVER Emma Raducanu has the world at her feet after winning the US Open tennis women’s singles at the age of 18.

Raducanu, who once described herself as the “quiet one who didn’t really raise her hand” in the classroom, raised the roof of the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York to win the final in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, against 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez.

Just a few months ago, Raducanu was finishing her Alevels in England, securing an A in economics and an A-plus in maths.

She threw herself to the ground in relief and covered her eyes following the stunning victory in one hour, 51 minutes at Flushing Meadows in New York.

As she left the court, she became the first British woman to win a grand slam title since Virginia Wade in the Queen’s silver jubilee year of 1977.

Afterwards, she received a message from the Queen who described a “remarkable achievemen­t at such a young age” and hailed a “testament to your hard work and dedication”.

“I have no doubt your outstandin­g performanc­e, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players,” the Queen said.

Just minutes before the win, Raducanu had slipped on the court and cut her leg, requiring a bandage.

The daughter of a Chinese mother and Romanian father, who moved to the UK from Canada when she was just two, she said after the win: “I am still just so shocked. I can’t believe I came through that last set.

“It honestly means absolutely everything to me to hold this trophy. Mum, Dad, thank you to everyone. This one’s for you guys.”

Former British star Tim Henman, 47, who was commentati­ng on the match, said afterwards: “I’m shaking, my legs are like jelly. I cannot believe the resilience, how tough she was, the quality of tennis.”

Raducanu’s glory came just months after she had to withdraw from the fourth round of Wimbledon in July due to breathing difficulti­es.

Later, she admitted the experience had “caught up” with her.

Yet Raducanu had not planned for victory. She had originally booked flight tickets home for a fortnight ago.

Back home, Raducanu has become a role model.

She finished at Newstead Wood, a selective grammar school for girls in Orpington, this northern summer.

The head teacher, Alan Blount, said other students were now starting to see her success as attainable.

“She was here just a few weeks ago. It’s not someone who left years ago – it’s not an older generation. It’s real,” he said.

At her local tennis club, in Beckenham, south London, a viewing party was held.

Anne Keothavong, a former British No.1 and Fed Cup captain, has known Raducanu since she was 11.

“I didn’t quite realise how good she was until I hit with her and thought: This isn’t an 11-year-old I can play halfhearte­d against. I had to really focus and make sure I had some respect left by the end,” Keothavong said.

“Her parents have done a remarkable job of raising someone who is not only a great athlete but a really polite young woman.

“I never thought, in my lifetime, I would witness a British woman in a grand slam final. And here we have Emma, surprising everyone.”

 ?? Picture: Getty Images ?? British teenager Emma Raducanu celebrates winning match point against Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final.
Picture: Getty Images British teenager Emma Raducanu celebrates winning match point against Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final.

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