Emma RaducanuBritish Tennis Player
Emma Raducanu is a British tennis player. She rose to public prominence in 2021, when she became the first British woman to claim a Grand Slam singles title since 1977 by winning the US Open in New York.
• Date of birth: 13 November 2002
• Age: 20 years old
• Place of birth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
• Residence: London, United Kingdom
• Nationality: British, Canadian
• Height: 175cm / 5ft 9ins
• Plays: Right-handed
• Turned Pro: 2018
• Career Prize Money: US$ 3,052,059
Emma’s remarkable rise through 2021 to become US Open Singles champion made waves in the tennis world, as she became the first qualifier to win the Grand Slam title in history. For many, Emma first appeared on the scene at Wimbledon 2021 after she was handed a wildcard and reached the fourth round, before having to retire from her match due to a medical issue.
But what do we know of Emma’s story and early life as she laid the foundations for becoming a professional tennis player? This is her story.
Emma was born in Toronto, Canada in 2002. Her father Ian is Romanian and from Bucharest, and her mother Renee is Chinese and from Shenyang. She and her family moved to England when she was two years old, and Emma has dual citizenship with both Britain and Canada.
She began playing tennis at the age of five, when she would get involved on court while her parents were having lessons of their own. “I started playing when I was five,” Raducanu said in an interview with the LTA.
“My earliest memory is riding the bicycle around the park courts where my parents were taking lessons. The guy who was training before them would take me round and put cones out, and I’d try to hit them as targets.”
One of Emma’s tennis heroes is former Chinese player Li Na. Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports back in 2014 (when she was just 11 years old), Emma said when asked to name her tennis heroes: “I like Li Na because she has a really good work ethic and has got really good movement around the court. Roger Federer from the men because he just moves around so swiftly and makes it look easy.”
She went to Bickley Primary School followed by Newstead Wood School in Orpington, where she claimed an A* in mathematics and an A in economics in her A-Levels in 2021. She sat her exams in the summer before competing in the main draw at Wimbledon.
Raducanu’s favourite surface is hard courts and her favourite shot is the forehand. Asked to pick her favourite surface, she said: “Hard courts because of the timing and I feel like I can get a really clean strike on the ball. It’s a nice feeling to be able to hit a lot of winners!”
Parents and Upbringing
Emma attributes much of her success on the court to the way she was raised by her parents. Despite admitting that they could be “very critical” at times, she feels that their input had a major role in helping her to raise her game on the court.
“I think the thing my parents have taught me by being very critical is that I have very high expectations of myself and high standards,” she said in an interview with the WTA after her US Open triumph in September 2021. “I think that’s a good thing overall, but it can also be damaging sometimes because you expect so much from yourself and you want to be perfect but it’s impossible to be perfect. So I think it’s just cutting myself slack that I need to improve on.”
Emma also believes that the work ethic her parents have helped to instil in her is partly down to their own struggles and journeys.
“I think those standards and the work ethic that they’ve instilled in me from their own backgrounds definitely has helped because I really push myself to the max every time I step on the court,” she said. “Every day, I’m really trying to maximize what I’ve got and maximize my potential.”
Raducanu has revealed that playing tennis with her dad from a young age and working on improving to beat him was one of her inspirations as a youngster.
Asked who her “tennis inspiration” is, Emma said: “My dad! He was always involved in my tennis from a very young age. When I was younger we’d always compete against each other and I’d always want to beat him. And when that day finally came, when I was older, it was great!”
Striking a more serious tone, Emma once again underlined the fact that she fully believes that the way her parents raised her has played a “huge part” in her success on the court.
“I think that from a young age I’ve always been brought up to have mental strength,” Emma said on Good Morning America in September 2021 after her US Open triumph. “My parents played a huge part in my upbringing and they were pretty tough on me when I was young, but it kind of shaped the way, and now I think it’s helping on the biggest stages in the world – on Arthur Ashe stadium when you really need it.”
Emma made her Grand Slam debut in the summer of 2021, when she was handed a wildcard to the Wimbledon Championships. She seized the opportunity in front of her in impressive fashion securing victories over Vitalia Diatchenko, Marketa Vondrousova and Sorana Cirstea to reach the fourth round.
In the fourth round, Emma came up against Ajla Tomljanovic but had to retire in the second set after she experienced breathing difficulties.
Regardless of her exit, her run to the fourth round at SW19 was still an historic feat. At 18 years and 239 days old, she had become the youngest British woman to reach the last 16 in the Open Era. She had also guaranteed her entry into the world’s top 200.
US Open 2021
After Wimbledon, Raducanu opted to change her coach from Nigel Sears to Andrew Richardson, who was one of her youth coaches and therefore boasted an in-depth knowledge of her game.
Emma began her preparations for the 2021 US Open at the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose. However, it wasn’t the best of starts for Raducanu as she lost in the first round to Zhang Shuai of China.
Raducanu reached the final of the WTA 125 event in Chicago, where she lost to Denmark’s Clara Tauson. This run helped to propel her into the world’s top 150.
Emma then started her US Open campaign at Flushing Meadows. She booked her place in the main draw after having beaten Bibiane Schoofs, Mariam Bolkvadze, and Mayar Sherif in straight sets in the qualifying rounds.
She then began her remarkable run to the final, beating Stefanie Voegele, Zhang Shuai, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Shelby Rogers, Belinda Bencic, and Maria Sakkari to book her place in the final without dropping a single set. Her run to the final meant that she had displaced Johanna Konta as the British No1 and also caused her ranking to skyrocket.
In the final, Raducanu defeated Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, 19, in two sets. It was the first US Open final to be contested by two teenagers since 1999. Emma ended up triumphing 6-4 6-3, serving out the match with an ace to end Britain’s 44-year wait for a women’s Grand Slam singles champion.
She became the first British female winner at the US Open since Virginia Wade in 1968 and the youngest women’s Slam champion since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004. Emma was also the first woman to win the US Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014, and became the youngest Briton ever to win a Grand Slam title.
The US Open win brought her up to number 23 in the women’s rankings and secured her a winner’s prize money cheque worth £1.8m.
Reflecting on how she was able to complete the historic feat, Emma explained that each match helped to build her confidence as she got into a rhythm during the tournament.
“I think just the sheer amount of matches that I played over the last four or five weeks, with each one I was building in confidence and I think with each one it gave me more and more of a free swing to go for my shots and be more aggressive,” Emma said on Good Morning America in the week after her US Open win.
“I was playing some extremely great opponents – Olympic champion, top 20 – and when you play those players, you definitely need to raise your game. It was really fun to experience and I’m just super happy with the week of course.”
One thing that Emma said she had not considered before her Grand Slam win was the special moments spent with her team during and after the tournament.
“When I was younger I never imagined that all of the amazing opportunities off the court existed,” she said in an interview with the WTA. “When I was younger and I watched older players win Slams, that was just the dream, the Slam on its own, the achievement, sharing it with the team and relatives and friends. But it’s just an added bonus, isn’t it, all of the really cool things you get to do.”
“I think for me, still, I cherish the most the moments with the team after the Grand Slam win. I think that was probably the most special night ever, when we were reflecting and just chatting about the last three weeks, the trip, and it was just a really nice moment to have shared with everyone.”
BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award 2021
In December 2021, Raducanu was voted as the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award for 2021. She beat off competition from the likes of diver Tom Daley and swimmer Adam Peaty to win the prestigious award, which is voted for by the British public each year.
Raducanu was unable to attend the awards ceremony because she was having to self-isolate in Abu Dhabi after having tested positive for Covid-19.
Upon winning the award, Raducanu said: “It’s such an honour just to be among these nominees. Congrats to you and all your achievements.
“I’m really happy with this, I’ve watched Sports Personality of the Year growing up and it’s an honour to be among those past winners. I’m happy for British tennis as well, and that we’ve managed to get this award…again!
“Thanks to all the fans and voters, this year has been insane. The energy this year playing at Wimbledon in front of my home crowd, that was something I’ve never felt before.”
The following day, Raducanu shared the photo below of herself with her replica trophy on her personal Instagram account, and wrote the caption: “Me and my Spoty. I’m honoured just to be amongst the other great nominees, let alone win. Thank you to everyone who voted and supported this entire year!”
Life Away From The Court
Emma has a keen interest in motor sports including Formula 1, a passion she has regularly alluded to on her Instagram account. She also participated in various other sports aside from tennis while she was growing up, including basketball, golf, karting, motocross, skiing, horse riding, and ballet.
In the summer of 2021, after her fourth-round exit at Wimbledon, Raducanu attended the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone. She posted on Instagram at the time: “A Sunday routine that slightly changed. Doesn’t get better than #f1 #britishgp.”
After her triumph at the US Open in September 2021, Raducanu attended the Met Gala in New York. She wore a Chanel printed monochrome ensemble designed by Virginie Viard.
Speaking after the event, Raducanu admitted she was probably more nervous preparing for the red carpet than she was before stepping out into Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It was funny because I was more nervous standing and waiting to take the photos at the Met than going out onto Ashe (laughs) because it was such a different experience,” she said. “It was a bit more intimidating at the start but then I feel like I’ve learned that I can adapt quite quickly and learn on the job.”
Emma is clearly a fan of men’s tennis superstar Roger Federer. In July 2017, she posted a picture of herself posing with the 20-time Grand Slam champion and wrote the caption: “It happened… #goat.”
What Have Other Said?
Three-time British Grand Slam Champion Andy Murray branded her US Open triumph as “very special”. “It was incredible what she did there,” said Murray. “I think for a lot of the people involved in British tennis, we knew she was extremely good.
“She hadn’t competed much for the last sort of 18 months or so with school and coronavirus and those sorts of things, but I think at Wimbledon everyone sort of got a bit of a glimpse of how good she could be. I’ve spent a little bit of time around her on the practice court, but more so in the same building, training close to each other, and watching what she’s doing, and she’s obviously really, really good.
“But what she did in New York was very special, a huge boost for British tennis and gives, hopefully, the governing bodies an opportunity to capitalise on that and get more and more kids involved in the sport. It’s great what she did and a huge opportunity for British tennis now.”
Meanwhile, former British tennis star Sue Barker, who won the French Open aged 20 in 1976, feels that Raducanu could follow Murray in becoming a world number one.
“You have to say that the sky’s the limit for Emma, she is definitely a potential world number one. I was pinching myself at what I was watching,” said Barker. “There’s a huge opportunity because the top of the game looks really open.
“There are questions around a lot of the best players and we’ve had new champions recently like Sofia Kenin and Jelena Ostapenko who have not really gone on. But I just feel that Emma has such a mature outlook, and with the way she reads the game she is going to be different.”