Words by Max Kilham, Sports Abroad Writer
From Bromley to the brightest lights.
18-year-old Emma Raducanu has made history, becoming the first qualifier in men’s or women’s tennis, to win a Grand Slam.
Her 6-4 6-3 victory over Leylah Fernandez, sealed by an ace, secured sporting history for the teenager. Raducanu immediately dropped to her knees, unable to hide her disbelief. Not only had the teenager achieved the unthinkable, she had pocketed a whopping £1.8 million for her troubles.
The teenager’s triumph at the US Open will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest sporting achievements by any British athlete, ever. Flushing Meadows may well be remembered as the birthplace of a remarkable career.
The manner of the achievement was convincing, to say the least. Not one single set was dropped by the young superstar. This included the three extra matches during her qualifying campaign.
After her victory over Fernandez, American tennis icon Billie Jean King presented the trophy. Raducanu, in awe of her circumstances, thanked the New York crowd for their support throughout her time at Flushing Meadows. As per Sky News, Raducanu expressed her gratitude:
“Thank you to everyone here in New York – thank you all for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match all the way to the final.
“I’ve loved playing in front of you and you’ve really spurred me on in some difficult moments.”
Raducanu also paid tribute to those within British tennis, like Tim Henman, who have supported her journey:
“Just to have such British legends and icons for me to follow in their footsteps, it definitely helps and gave me the belief that I could actually do it.”
Raducanu, who was competing in only her second-ever Grand Slam after her appearance in the fourth round at Wimbledon, had an impressive list of names on her journey to the final. These names included 11th seed Belinda Bencic and the in-form seventeenth seed, Maria Sakkari.
Her opponent in the final, Canadian 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, had an impressive run also. Her scalps included: number two seed Aryna Sabalenka, number 5 seed Elina Svitolina and the previous reigning champion Naomi Osaka.
Raducanu began life on another continent, having been born in Toronto, Canada in 2002. Her international roots extend to her parents’ international background. Her mother, Renee, is from China, whilst her dad, Ian, hails from Romania. Her tennis idols also hail from these two countries: Li Na from China and Simona Halep from Romania.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Emma’s parents were unable to witness her triumph in person. However, the teenager was under no illusions regarding her parents’ positive influence on her tennis career. As per the Daily Mirror, Raducanu conveyed her admiration for her parents:
“I would have loved them to be here and we can all celebrate together, or they could be with me and experience the same things but you know, they’re watching from home very proud.
“My dad said to me ‘you’re even better than your dad thought’ so that was reassuring. My dad’s definitely very tough to please but I managed to today.”
It remains to be seen as to whether Emma will use this achievement as a platform for further success. Regardless of her future within the sport, she has cemented her place within both tennis and British sporting excellency.