Emma Raducanu: Croft reveals advice for tennis star and her team
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Emma Raducanu has quickly taken the sporting world by storm, going from an A Level student to a household name in just three months. The British teenage sensation made history by becoming the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam title as she hoisted the US Open trophy on Saturday. Thanks to her unprecedented exploits, the 18-year-old is tipped to earn more than just her £1.8m prize money cheque as she has been described as the total package for PR, with the talent and personality to transcend tennis.
Just three weeks ago, Raducanu was ranked at a career-high No 150 in the world as she prepared to begin her campaign to quality for the US Open.
She had already made a name for herself in her home country, making her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon as a wild card and storming to the second week before retiring with breathing difficulties.
If her exploits at the All England Club over summer were a ‘fairytale run’, what she achieved in Flushing Meadows is arguably too unbelievable to even be a Hollywood movie plot.
The teenager from Bromley came through three rounds of qualifying without dropping a set to make her second-ever appearance in a Grand Slam main draw, before reeling off another 14 sets in a row to find herself holding the trophy at the end of the tournament.
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Raducanu’s run got more and more implausible as she progressed through each round, often needing just over an hour to dispatch of a whole host of top 50 players, dropping as little as one game in some matches.
While many expected she would surely run into a player that was just too good for her, the 18-year-old overcame recent Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic and 17th-seed Maria Sakkari to become the first qualifier in history, man or woman, to reach a Grand Slam final.
The Brit then achieved the impossible, beating fellow-teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in the final to win the title without dropping a set through three qualifying matches and seven main-draw matches, and write her name in the history books.
She’s now being tipped as the next big thing by PR experts, with her talent, personality, charisma and relatability said to make her one of the most marketable sporting stars of this generation.
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“This is the start of something epic,” PR guru Mark Borkowski told The Guardian.
“She is a billion-dollar girl, no doubt about it. She is the real deal.
“It’s not just that she plays extraordinary tennis, it’s also her background, her ethnicity, her freedom of spirit. People also love the fact that she is vulnerable, but laughs the pressures away.”
While the newfound stardom and inevitable brand deals can be an overwhelming new thing for Raducanu to deal with, she is already managed by super-agent Max Eisenbud, who helped the likes of former Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova and Li Na, one of Raducanu’s heroes, become huge, marketable stars.
Meanwhile, Raducanu has already been warned over her sudden rise in popularity, with the last British women’s champion noting early on that the 18-year-old must “be careful”.
Ahead of the quarter-finals, Virginia Wade told The Telegraph: “You do have to be careful. With some people, it all goes to their head. Or they have to deal with so much stuff that it affects their tennis. Look at Naomi Osaka. With Emma, people are going to be after her like bees around a honeypot.”
Another former Grand Slam winner, Sue Barker, said she hoped Raducanu would be protected from the increased fame that would be coming her way.
“Personally, the way she’s handling herself, it’s not going to affect her. Hopefully I’m right, with it comes that,” she told LBC News.
“You mention Naomi Osaka, she was only 20 when she won the US Open and she said it changed her life, changed her life in a way she didn’t like.”
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