Football fan Emma Raducanu has been boosted by a message of support from Marcus Rashford, a member of England’s Euro 2020 playing squad.
It’s been a busy two weeks. Think I’ll just kick back at home for a few days and definitely enjoy the game. It’s coming home isn’t it?! Emma Raducanu
The British 18-year-old tennis sensation has been “kicking back” after winning the hearts of the nation by hitting and smiling her way to the last-16 of Wimbledon just a month after making her debut on the WTA Tour.
Raducanu, world-ranked 338, went on an emotional and physical roller-coaster in an unforgettable first campaign at the Championships.
And was forced to retire in the second set in her bid for the quarter-finals against Ajla Tomljanovic on No.1 Court because of breathing problems and dizziness, while admitting the whole experience of her surprise run “caught up with me”.
Rashford told her: “It happened to me playing for the national team in U16s against Wales. I remember it to this day. No explanation for it and it never happened again. You should be very proud of yourself. The country is proud of you. Glad to read your feeling better. Onwards and upwards.”
Raducanu, who only sat her A level exams in April, replied: “Thanks so much for the kind words, this message means a lot to me. I’ll keep building and be back stronger!”
And the Kent kid, wearing a Three Lions shirt, was hoping to continue the re-charge of her batteries by watching Rashford’s England attempt to beat Denmark at Wembley and return there at the weekend for the country’s first major final since 1966.
Raducanu, predicting a 2-1 win for Rashford and Co, said: “I think I’ll be at home for sure watching the game. It’s been a busy two weeks. Think I’ll just kick back at home for a few days and definitely enjoy the game. It’s coming home isn’t it?!”
She has also replied to messages from Rashford’s squad-mate Jude Bellingham, ex-England footballer turned presenter Gary Lineker, athlete Dina Asher-Smith and other sports stars, plus musician Liam Gallagher and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, telling the royals: “Thank you so much for the encouragement.”
The BBC have defended the comments of John McEnroe in the wake of Raducanu’s retirement against Australian opponent Tomljanovic.
McEnroe, commentating for the BBC, said: “It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with [Naomi] Osaka not even here. How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long – how well they can handle it. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”
The corporation stated in the Daily Telegraph: “John McEnroe offered his personal view on the pressures that tennis players face, based on both his own experience and those of current player. He was sympathetic to Emma’s situation.”
Multi-Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has told Raducanu to “keep your head” as she deals with the elevation in profile as a result of her Wimbledon run.
Becker, writing in the Daily Mail, said: “Emma Raducanu …I guess it has brought back memories of a German boy who arrived at Wimbledon as a teenager and did OK.
“The best piece of advice I could give her is taken from Kipling’s poem, so identified with Wimbledon: ‘Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.’
“Of course, when I was playing it was easier to close off from outside distractions because we did not have social media, mobiles and the internet. I am sure the team around her will be trying to protect her from all this stuff, and I remember the people around me did a good job with this.
“They were trying to cover me from all potential distractions as the interest grew and it helped that my English was so poor at the time that I did not understand the newspapers anyway.
“From my experience, it will help Emma that she is so young and new to this that she will not understand a lot of what is going on around her. I certainly didn’t. At that age you do not comprehend the history of the sport and you are not supposed to, and things which later in your career can add to the pressure seem nice and fun.
“Looking at Emma, I would describe her as a natural tennis player and a very good athlete who has things you cannot really teach or coach. There seems to be that instinct of knowing where to move and where to hit the ball.”