Emma Raducanu has revealed that her fourth round retirement from Wimbledon earlier this summer left her “hungry” to put in one of the big sporting feats with the US Open victory.
The 18-year-old achieved an unprecedented performance in New York, winning 10 matches at the tournament after making it through qualifying, all in straight sets, to take home the top prize.
Raducanu’s 6-4 6-3 win over fellow teen Leylah Fernandez in the final made her the first British woman since Virginia Wade, who watched from the stands 44 years ago to win a slam singles title, and the first in Flushing Meadows since Wade in 1968.
Emma Raducanu has revealed how tears at Wimbledon inspired her US Open win
The 18-year-old retired from her fourth round match at SW19 in July due to breathing difficulties
It’s only been a few months since she started having breathing difficulties during her match against Ajla Tomljanovic at the All England Club, after which she admitted that ‘I think the whole experience has caught up with me’.
There was much talk about Raducanu’s unfortunate retirement from Wimbledon, but the teenager soon insists that she put it behind her soon and use it as a springboard to increase her ‘hunger’ and achieve this incredible feat.
She worked hard to be physically strong enough to compete at the highest level and, through a series of competitions, made first at lower events and then at Flushing Meadows, taking a leap forward each.
She said, ‘At the beginning of the grass courts, I was just coming out of my exams. I had three weeks to practice for my first tournament. I just built every game, every win.
But two months later, she is the first British woman in 44 years to win a Grand Slam title
“I thought Wimbledon was such an incredible experience. Fourth round, second week, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘What a great achievement’.
“But I was still hungry. I was hard at work after the grass. I didn’t have much free time. With every game and every tournament I think I’ve gained real confidence, in my game, in terms of my touch of the ball. Everything came together today.
“I think it was an accumulation of everything I’ve learned in the past five weeks.”
The teenager’s extraordinary talent was also apparent from a young age and her performance at Wimbledon this summer nevertheless showed that a great future lay ahead.
Raducanu added: “I’ve always dreamed of winning a grand slam. You say, “I want to win a grand slam,” but to have the faith that I did, and actually execute it, win a grand slam, I can’t believe it.
“I first started when I was a little girl, but I think the most important thing you have visions of for me was just winning, the winning moment, and going to celebrate with your team in the box. That’s been in my head for a few nights now. I fell asleep with that.’
Raducanu recorded a 6-4 6-3 victory over fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final
Her team consists of her parents, Ian and Renee, who were forced to see their daughter on TV due to the ongoing difficulties of international travel.
Still, one of Raducanu’s proudest achievements was impressing her father, who has been the driving force behind the scenes.
She said, ‘I would have loved for them to be here, and we can all celebrate together where they could be with me and experience the same things. But they watch very proudly from home.
“My father, he said to me, ‘You are even better than your father thought’, so that was reassuring. Tinie Tempah reference there. My dad is definitely hard to please. But I managed today.’
Raducanu’s run has been characterized by an almost supernatural composure, including shutting out the excitement and hype her performance has generated at home.
The teen has been inundated with congratulations, including from the Queen, but she said: “I still haven’t checked my phone.
Raducanu insists she hasn’t thought about the future and instead just “loves life”
“I have absolutely no idea what’s going on outside of the little world we’re in here. We’ve just been in the silent room, just enjoying the moment, taking it all in. I think we really need to close everything today, just enjoy it as a team because it was a team effort.
“I have no idea when I’m going home. I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow. I definitely think it’s the time to just move away from any future thoughts or plans, any schedule. I have absolutely no idea. I don’t care at this point, I just love life.’
This was the first all-teen final of this millennium, with Canadian Fernandez putting in a massive run, including victories over two former champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber and the top five-seaters Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.
The 19-year-old initially looked the more nervous of the two and Raducanu took a 2-0 lead, but Fernandez put her right on her back and it was a bull’s eye with a brilliant first set until the 10th game.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two was Raducanu’s exceptional return, and she ramped up the pressure before taking her fourth set point with a forehand winner down the line, arms up and a huge ‘Come on’.
Raducanu said her dad Ian (left) is definitely hard to please, but she did it today
Four games in a row for Raducanu from an early second set failure put her on the brink of victory, but Fernandez is a tenacious competitor and she saved two match points at 5-2 to force her opponent to try and serve it out.
The failed attempts to avoid a break point resulted in Raducanu cutting her leg, requiring a medical timeout at the most inopportune moments.
Fernandez was furious, but Raducanu managed to save himself, saving two break points and taking the win in appropriate clinical style with an ace.
About the medical time-out, the teen said, “I didn’t really want to stop because I thought it would disrupt my rhythm.
‘But I couldn’t continue playing. I wasn’t allowed because my knee was gushing with blood. I think I just went there and really tried to figure out what my playing patterns would be, what I would try to perform.
Raducanu cut her leg, requiring a medical time-out at the most inopportune moments
“Going out with a breakpoint after a two or three minute break isn’t easy. I think I managed to really let go of the clutch clearances when I needed to.”
In addition to a check for £1.8m – dwarfing her previous earnings of £220,000 – Raducanu racks up 2,000 ranking points and climbs the standings from 150 to 23.
She’s gone from an outsider to one of the top names in the game overnight, but she brushed off any talk of pressure.
“I feel absolutely no pressure,” she said. ‘I’m only 18 years old. I just have a free kick with everything that comes my way. That’s how I’ve been through every game here in the United States. It got me this trophy, so I don’t think I need to change anything.”
Fernandez fought back tears on stage but was widely acclaimed for using the moment to praise New Yorkers’ resilience on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The 19-year-old admitted the defeat stung, saying: ‘I think this loss, I will bear it for a very long time. I think it will motivate me to do better in training, better for the next chance I get.
“But I’m really happy with myself, with the way I competed, and the game I played, the way I’ve behaved on the court over the past two weeks. I have improved a lot, not only in tennis, but also emotionally and mentally.
“Emma is a very good player. She has played incredibly over the past few months with a lot of confidence. Unfortunately I made one mistake too many today. Hopefully we will have many more tournaments together and many more finals.’