Emma Raducanu brought her hands to her head in disbelief, then crouched on the ground to enjoy the moment as the evening light faded on court 12 at the All England Club.
The hype around the prospects for British tennis is never hard to come by, but in Raducanu’s case it is certainly justified. It wasn’t just the fact that she beat Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday night – a player ranked 296 places above her – on her Grand Slam debut, but the way to do it – cool, collected and completed with the assurance of a seasoned professional.
18-year-old Raducanu has long been touted as the next big thing in British tennis, but it looked like when she really arrived. Yet while other young people have been celebrated in the past, his journey up to this point has been far from typical.
Raducanu actually had her choice of four different nations to represent: She was born in Toronto to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, before the family moved to London when she was two years old.
She started tennis at the age of five and her potential was spotted early on by the LTA, who supported her through the Pro Scholarship Program, which helps young British players who are likely to reach the top. 100 in five years.
Her parents, who both work in finance, were keen to keep her well balanced and her hobbies included karting and motocross, and she remained dedicated to her studies alongside tennis.
She successfully juggled her GCSEs while turning pro in 2018, scoring top marks while winning her first three ITF titles and making her debut for the British Fed Cup squad last year.
Just last month, she completed her A Levels in math and economics while preparing for Wimbledon, and hadn’t played a professional tournament since March 2020 before this week.
âI have to be the best, do my best,â Raducanu said of his parents’ expectations in an interview with Telegraph Sport last year. âThey both come from very academic families and some pretty tough countries growing up – my dad in Romania and my mom in China – so they probably have a lot of that left. They were both communist countries, so education was sort of their only option. They want me to have options, they think my education is very important for my future.
Focusing on her studies this year at Newstead Wood, a girls’ high school in Orpington, Kent, was the kind of normalcy her parents were keen to foster in their efforts to keep her out of the limelight. But it will now be almost impossible, after his already sensational fortnight at these Championships.
Her world ranking of 338 is expected to skyrocket after that third round race, and with her victory on Thursday she has earned Â£ 115,000 – almost four times her career earnings to date. One of six Britons to receive a wildcard for the singles draw, Raducanu has shown a poise none of his compatriots could show this week and is the only one to advance to the third round.
She will play again on Saturday against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, where she will undoubtedly be represented on the show court, and Raducanu will have more eyes on her than ever. New fans can expect to see a big game, with a powerful serve, as well as an aggressive ball hitting from the back of the field.
Those who have watched Raducanu for years know his strength. She’s been impressing British tennis mainstays like Heather Watson since she was just 16, and Watson has described being left speechless by the youngster lifting 200kg hip thrusts in the gym in 2018. âMost of the time. guys can’t do that, “Watson said Sport Telegraph Last year.
It is this well-honed athleticism, despite his younger years, that gives him a chance to compete with players far above his rankings, as well as what Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong describes as its âincredibly competitiveâ dynamism.
It helped her come back from a 3-0 deficit in the second set on Thursday, and may well mark her an even more memorable victory this Saturday to reach week two at Wimbledon – a result she says she would exchange for any A * note.