The Daily Telegraph

This Emma’s story is one of aspiration


Jane Austen famously declared that her Emma Woodhouse was “perfect despite her faults”. Well, Emma Raducanu is perfect and no double faults. Or none at the thrilling final of the US Open anyway. Best of all, the girl is not a grunter. What a relief to be spared those baying childbirth moans as another ball is hoisted effortfull­y over the net. The only expression of emotion the 18-year-old from Bromley permits herself is a satisfied little exhalation of breath on her fingers when she has pulled off another crosscourt zinger. Or, more sparingly, an emphatic “C’mon!” with an elegantly raised fist.

Virginia Wade, the last British woman to win the US Open, got it right on Saturday night when she said: “It’s not that nerve-racking watching Emma because she’s so in control.” For tennis fans in this country this is a novel sensation, not having to cling on by our fingertips to a rollercoas­ter of ecstatic highs and plummeting lows as our male or female bag-of-nerves throws away the match. The only person who can defeat Emma Raducanu is herself.

We could get to like having a champion who doesn’t put us through the mill. I loved the look of stunned delight on Tim Henman’s face – like any great talent, Emma’s makes you laugh in disbelief. There was one half-volley she took so early that neither Leylah Fernandez nor the cameraman saw it.

“Youth is more brave,” said Martina Navratilov­a admiringly from the commentary box. And beautiful, too. Watching Emma strike the ball with a rapturous freedom and intensity makes you want to be 18 again.

“Get her to take a penalty for England next time,” said Himself, “Emma wouldn’t miss.”

Certain commentato­rs on the Left tried to make a thing of her background (her Romanian father and Chinese mother) to attack this country for its supposed anti-immigrant feeling. They failed. The smiley girl waving the Union flag, lit from within with pride and joy, could not be more British. The place she earned at a highly selective grammar school, her parents working in financial services to support their only child, their three-bedroom semi, Emma pausing briefly from swinging a racquet to take an A* and an A in A-level maths and economics before storming to one of the greatest prizes in her sport, is a case study in drive and aspiration. Her parents, she admitted afterwards, are her toughest critics: “They’re hard to please, but I got them this time.”

You did, darling girl. You got all of us.

 ??  ?? Fault free: the Raducanu family’s drive propelled Emma to success
Fault free: the Raducanu family’s drive propelled Emma to success

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