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Emma Raducanu: the 18-year-old who wowed Wimbledon

British tennis fans celebrated their new star on ‘Raducanu Ridge’

“A star is born,” said Alyson Rudd in The Sunday Times. Last Saturday, Emma Raducanu, the world No.338, became the youngest British woman to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon in the open era, by defeating the Romanian Sorana Cîrstea. With her elegant running forehand and astonishing agility – she used to ballet dance – the 18-year-old outwitted her more experienced opponent, and gave “a masterclass in how to harness public adoration”. 

Raducanu, who sat her A-levels last month, wasn’t due to play the tournament at all, said Simon Briggs in The Sunday Telegraph. Her parents had held her back from competing on the tour so she could study. The panel that issues wild cards granted her one only after her coach Nigel Sears protested against the oversight. Their change of heart has paid off. Raducanu navigated the first week without dropping a set. And in her victory over Cîrstea, she showed extraordinary sangfroid when the Romanian made a dangerous comeback at the start of the second set. Never have I seen such a composed display by a British hopeful – not even the 18-year-old Andy Murray taking on David Nalbandian in 2005. This was “goosebump territory”. 

Last week, Wimbledon’s famous “Henman Hill” was – temporarily – transformed into “Raducanu Ridge”, said Tim Lewis in The Observer. But in her match against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday evening, both expectation and physical exertion took their toll. After a long day of waiting, she went on to lose the first set and then retired – 3-0 down in the second – with breathing difficulties. 

It’s always rash to heap too much praise on a newcomer, said Riath Al-Samarrai in The Mail on Sunday. But after her performance on Saturday, people are inevitably wondering just how far she might go.

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