Sharing in her New York joy, the boy who’s been a magical friend to Emma since she was just six
AS their teenage daughter made history in the US Open, Emma Raducanu’s parents had to make do with watching it all on TV.
America’s tough Covid travel rules meant Britain’s latest tennis superstar was robbed of the chance to celebrate with her family.
Yet it seems there was some support from back home in the Big Apple after all – for the Mail can reveal that Miss Raducanu was cheered on to victory by a friend she’s known since the age of six.
Former tennis protege Benjamin Heynold, 19, has been by Miss Raducanu’s side throughout her stunning – and swift – rise to global stardom, having moved to the US to study.
Following her victory at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday, Miss Raducanu, 18, posed with her old pal for a photo beneath a Manhattan billboard celebrating the city’s new Grand Slam star.
Mr Heynold posted the image on social media along with a heartwarming picture of the pair as young children holding tennis medals. The caption? ‘History.’
The friends met more than a decade ago through their mutual love of the sport, playing together in competitions across the country in the junior ranks and both making the Great Britain squad.
In 2017 the pair had their first taste of playing in front of a large crowd, taking part in a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall.
The day saw them pose for a photo with former British number one Greg Rusedski, who this week backed Miss Raducanu to win multiple Grand Slams. While Miss Raducanu bagged her first trophy at the weekend, Mr Heynold appears to have pursued a different path. Once tipped for sporting stardom himself, he is understood to have taken a step back from top-level tennis and is now studying in the US. That allowed him to be by his childhood friend’s side – unlike Miss Raducanu’s family back in Bromley.
While she grew up in southeast London, Mr Heynold – the son of a managing director at an international investment banking firm – was raised in a sprawling private estate near Chertsey, Surrey. He was educated at TASIS England – formerly known as The American School – where day fees for secondary school pupils start at around £20,000, rising to almost £50,000 for boarders.
Miss Raducanu has also found some time for an Old Etonian, too – for yesterday saw the Prime Minister speak to the tennis sensation for the first time following her stunning victory.
Boris Johnson congratulated Miss Raducanu in a phone call as she continued to soak up the atmosphere in New York following her debut at the Met Gala.
A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘praised her determination, skill and mental strength during a series of tough matches, and said the whole of the UK had united behind her success’.
They added: ‘Both the Prime Minister and Emma agreed on the importance of continuing to support grassroots tennis, and in encouraging young people to take up the game.’
‘United behind her success’