Emma Raducanu completed her beautiful fairytale in New York last night, winning the US Open in a heart-pounding final and making history as the first British woman to win a Grand Slam tennis title in 44 years.
The 18-year-old – who completed her A-levels earlier this year – was called a “bloody miracle” after injuring her knee in a fall, but got up and served an ace to a 6-4, 6-3 win over rival Leylah Fernandez.
“If you believe in yourself, anything is possible,” the teen declared just before going to court for the biggest game of her young life.
Emma fell to the ground at the end of a thrilling 1 hour 51 minutes and wept tears of joy as she won the tournament without dropping a set. “It’s a miracle,” said former Wimbledon champion Chris Evert. “This is a kid that no one had heard of until a few weeks ago. Now she is the biggest name in the sport. She stole our whole hearts.’
Emma Raducanu rocks the championship trophy after winning the US Open on Saturday
Emma Raducanu completed her beautiful fairytale in New York last night, won the US Open in a heart-pounding final and made history as the first British woman to win a Grand Slam tennis title in 44 years
Pictured Raducanu screams with joy after winning the first set of her match against Leylah Fernandez
Raducanu falls to the ground as she celebrates winning the US Open final on Saturday
Raducanu lays on the ground as she celebrates her victory against Leylah Fernandez at the US Open
After her win, Emma flashed her trademark big grin and said, ‘Thank you to everyone here in New York for making me feel so at home from my first qualifier to the final. Leylah will always play great tennis and always fight… I knew I had to dig deep.
“I think it shows that the future of women’s tennis – and just the depth of the game right now – is so amazing. I think every player in the women’s draw definitely has a chance to win at every tournament.
“I hope the next generation can follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest legends,” she added, mentioning Billie Jean King, who presented her with the trophy.
As cheering Brits celebrated the teen’s anointing as the new queen of the court, the 23,771 crowd at New York’s crowded Arthur Ashe Stadium cheered their approval and gave the new champion a standing ovation.
But on Emma’s big day, her parents Renee and Ian were missing, as draconian Covid restrictions had kept them out of America.
Raducanu celebrates winning a point in Saturday’s US Open final
Britain’s Emma Raducanu celebrates beating Greece’s Maria Sakkari to reach the women’s final at day eleven of the US Open on Friday
Back home, the Queen was one of the first to congratulate Emma, sending a message that read, “Congratulations on your success in winning the United States Open Tennis Championships. It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age and a testament to your hard work and dedication.
“I have no doubt that your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players. I send you and your many supporters my warmest congratulations.’
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall said: ‘Congratulations Emma Raducanu on your US Open victory – what a fantastic achievement! We are all so proud. Well done to Leylah Fernandez today too. An excellent match between two inspiring young women – we can’t wait to see where you go.”
UK Emma Raducanu snaps selfies after her US Open victory over Shelby Rogers on Day 8
And the Duchess of Cambridge tweeted: ‘Many congratulations to Emma Raducanu on your stunning performance and historic Grand Slam victory!
“Unbelievable – we are all so proud of you. Well done Leylah Fernandez on your great performance at this year’s US Open, it was a joy to watch.”
The match ended in dramatic style when Emma, from Bromley, Kent, took a wide shot and fell to the ground, severely grazing her knee. With only two points to go for the potential win, medics had to be called as blood was seeping from the wound.
Moments later, Emma was back on her feet, becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977.
Emma celebrates as she proudly holds up the championship trophy after winning the US Open
Wade, who also won the US Open in 1968, was in the crowd to witness the historic victory and jumped to his feet at the end of the match.
In addition to the trophy, Emma will take home £1.8 million in winnings. But she had to forgo the traditional champagne after the match because she is under 21, the legal drinking age in the US.
In Beckenham, South East London, cheering friends and supporters from her home side Parklangley cheered and shouted as Emma fought her way to victory over 19-year-old Canadian Fernandez.
After her win, Raducanu praised her opponent and said: ‘First of all I would like to congratulate Leylah and her team, she played fantastic tennis and defeated some of the best players in the world. The level was extremely high and I hope we can play many more tournaments and hopefully finals against each other.”
Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez hug after Emma won the second set of their women’s singles final on Saturday
Meanwhile, Fernandez wiped his tears and said: “Today it will be difficult to recover from, but Emma played great. Well done to her and her team.’
And regarding the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, she added: “I know today is particularly difficult for New York and the United States.
“I just hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been for the past twenty years.”
Emma is now tipped to earn up to £100 million in sponsorship deals, is a favorite to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and may even be honored by the Queen.
The teenager brilliantly moved up to the biggest game of her life, despite being dropped from Wimbledon during the quarter-finals in July after a panic attack on the pitch. But that was all forgotten yesterday when she stormed to victory. Emma said she hoped her historic victory would inspire others: “It means a lot to me that one day a little girl or boy picks up a racket because they saw me play tennis.”
Evert described Emma as ‘the future of women’s tennis’ and said: ‘She gave everything she had. She is the most exciting new talent to hit the scene in a long time.
Pictured: Emma Raducanu on the cover of British Vogue
“This is just the beginning of what this young woman can do. We’re going to see a lot more of her, that’s for sure. This is just the beginning.’
It was a meteoric rise for Emma, who became the first qualifier – male or female – to win a Grand Slam.
Her Romanian father Ian and Chinese-born mother Renee are said to have only seen the match in the UK and called their daughter right after her win.
Born in Toronto but moved to Britain with her parents when she was two, Emma is now on the cusp of becoming one of the richest women in the sport. Lucrative deals with Nike and racket makers Wilson have already made her a £1million fortune, but that figure will be dwarfed by her future earnings
One sports agent said: ‘She could easily make £100m or more. She appeals to a wide audience and is so young that she can only get better. The offers are already pouring in. She is currently the most important in the sport. Everything is possible.’
Harry Bushnell, who coached her from six to ten, said: “I think it’s a testament to her because she’s such a lovely person, on and off the pitch, and I think that’s why so many people standing behind her.
“The Parklangley club will always stand by her.”
When the results came in, a woman ran onto the street where Emma lives and yelled “Yeah, come on!” before running back inside.
Christine Whatling, 81, who watched Emma grow up, expressed her joy, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is brilliant, she deserves it, she’s worked really hard and played really well.
‘I’m so happy for her. I think everyone is very proud of her. I remember seeing her when she was at Wimbledon and saying, ‘Wait a minute, that’s the girl playing tennis outside!’
“What she has achieved is amazing.”