Emma Raducanu's remarkable Wimbledon debut come to a disappointing end on Monday as the British teenager was knocked out in the fourth round by Ajla Tomljanovic.
The 18-year-old had captured the imagination of fans at SW19 after three successive straight sets victories had her one win away from the quarter-finals, making her the youngest British female to reach that stage in the open era.
But Tomljanovic – who was ranked 263 places higher than her opponent before the match – proved too strong, taking the first set 6-4, before Raducanu left the court for a medical timeout as she trailed the second set 3-0.
Raducanu was seen to by medics during the match as she grimaced in pain and showed clear discomfort as she headed back to the changing rooms, only for the umpire to call off the match for medical reasons.
Her nervous parents Ian and Renee had cheered her on from the stands as thousands in Court One – and millions at home – backed their new tennis hero.
Her incredible playing style and winning smile have won her legions of fans and she is predicted to earn huge money should her trajectory continue.
Her injury was believed to be related to her stomach.
Mum Renee rushed off the court looking concerned while dad Ian said: “There’s been such a buzz about her.”
Asked about her injury he said he thought it could be related to the high level of tennis she has been playing at.
Tomljanovic will now go on to play world number one Ashleigh Barty in what would have been a momentous occasion for Raducanu had she made it through.
Raducanu was the lowest ranked player in the women’s draw at number 338 and only sat her A-levels in April and played her first WTA Tour match last month having put her tennis career on hold during the pandemic to concentrate on her studies.
She is competing at SW19 only after being handed a wild-card entry.
While Raducanu, from Bromley, Kent, was gearing up for her big match – debate was raging over whether to rename Henman Hill after her.
Fans were debating whether the Hill, also known as Murray Mound, should be renamed Raducanu Rise or Raducanu Ridge – such is her soaring popularity.
Luke Ralph, 18, a school friend who trained at Bromley tennis centre with Raducanu, said she was “one of a kind” and recalled one occasion when he was on his way home from training and saw Raducanu, who was 13 at the time,
practising her serves by herself in the dark.
“She was the kind of person who just had that dedication to do anything she could, really,” he said.
“We were probably just going home for dinner, wanting to get back and she was just out there training so I think it’s a sign of her character, that determination.”
He said her success has inspired young people in their local community in Kent to pursue their goals.
“The reaction has just been amazing from everyone, even non-tennis players,” he said.
“You realise that it’s not an unreachable goal to play at Wimbledon.
“For young people as well, it’s important that they realise that they’re actually not as far away as they think from their goal.
“Emma’s one of a kind but it just shows that, if you have that drive and that determination, you can make it, which is a really big thing that people should take away from it.”
He added that he expects Raducanu will deal with her newfound fame well.
“She’s got a very strong team around her,” he said.
“It’s never easy to say but I think she’ll deal with it quite well, I think she’s always been very focused.
“And I think it’s that determination to win that will block out social media, papers and all that.”
Marcel Knobil, founder of the Brand Council consultancy, said Raducanu’s winning smile was worth at least £3 million.
“We’re looking for an opportunity to raise optimism and brands want to be associated with that.
“I’m confident that within a year she would be earning £3m to £5m in sponsorship alone.
“She has so many qualities that brands would love to be associated with.
She’s multicultural, young and successful.
“She’s also very attractive, and looks matter.
“It’s so easy to look at an opposite in the world of tennis and that was Andy Murray.
“It took far more success than most performers would require for him to attract serious sponsorship.
“He worked very hard to try and get the edge out of his personality and try to reduce the dourness.
“Emma Raducanu has the positivity, the smile, that brands want. It’s no accident that you find smiles within logos.
“The only disappointment from her perspective is that it is now that the England Football team is succeeding.
“She would have an even greater magnetism if England weren’t doing so well.”
Debbie Jevans, 61, the last British woman to reach the final 16 on her Wimbledon debut, recalled the double-edged sword of playing to an enthusiastic home crowd.
“When you are a Brit playing Wimbledon and in that situation it’s all about how you handle the pressure,” she said.
“On the one hand you can feed off the support of the crowd but on the other it does add to the pressure on you.
“Emma has seemed to feed brilliantly off it and has fully embraced it so far.
“I had left school at 16 to play tennis and I think it’s a good thing that Emma stayed on and completed her A-levels, that is probably helping her.”
A string of celebs flocked to Wimbledon yesterday to watch Centre Court action – while Raducanu played on Court One.
Those on Centre Court included Maya Jama, 26, and This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby, 40, and Phillip Schofield, 59.
While Sienna Miller, 39, Darcy Bussell, 52, Poppy Delevingne, 35, and FKA Twigs, 33 also enjoyed yesterday's tennis action.
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