Emma Raducanu, who recently turned 20, is turning her attention to the 2023 season while maintaining her glittering off-court commitments by lighting up the 44 windows at Harrods.
I’m really looking forward to coming to New Zealand. I’ve heard so many good things about the tournament. It is a great way to start off the Australian Open swing. I have heard that the tournament in New Zealand is great for players and fans. New Zealand is known for its beautiful landscape and nature, so I hope I can get to explore some of the other beautiful parts whilst in my time there. Emma Raducanu
The British No 1 celebrated her birthday on 13 November, putting her teenage years behind her with question marks still hovering over injuries and her choice of coaches.
Billie Jean King has offered advice, and wants to see Raducanu back after her injury plagued 2022.
“Happy birthday to the 2021 US Open Women’s Singles champion Emma Raducanu!” she tweeted from Glasgow during the recent Billie Jean King Cup Finals. “She is the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam. Hope to see her healthy and back on the court soon.”
Ranked 150th in the world, the Brit had stormed to the US Open title without dropping a single set, and was subsequently catapulted up the rankings, cracking the world’s Top 10 for the first time back in July.
Earlier in the week, King had urged the Canadian-born star, who lives in Bromley, to surround herself with the right people: “First of all, you can’t pay attention to what anyone says about you,” she said. “And don’t take anything personally.
“But then you’ve got to find the right person to talk to. And that’s the hard part because everyone has an opinion.
“It’s important for her to find out what she wants in life. She needs to search her own soul.”
Many felt that Dmitry Tursunov was that right person to help Raducanu, but the Russian opted out of a permanent arrangement with the World No 74 in October, and has since described his former charge as a hard-working individual, adding ‘there was no aura of a diva or superstar’ about her.
“Honestly, I did not see or feel that there were a lot of outside things going on,” Tursunov said in a recent interview. “From the time that we started, Emma just really had her nose to the ground. She was very hard working and I did not see her skip a lot of things.
“There was no aura of diva or superstar about her and, I think, she has been managing that part very well.
“I was super impressed with her, and couldn’t be happier with the way she is as a professional athlete.”
Tursunov and Raducanu worked together for around 3 months, and they both knew she had a very slim hope of defending her US Open title.
“Honestly, the expectations of her repeating it were extremely unrealistic and anyone who understands anything about tennis would agree to that,” Tursunov said. “It’s not because she doesn’t have the abilities.
“She has the ability but the game just needs to be improved to have that consistency to play at the high level.
“From my perspective, there’s only positive things that I can say about her, just the way she handled it, how professional she is for her age. I wish I was like that when I played.”
It was Tursunov’s decision to end the partnership, the last in the line of past Raducanu coaches, including Nigel Sears, Andrew Richardson and Torben Beltz, amongst others, and the 39-year-old Russian is now working with Belinda Bencic.
“Of course, I would rather stick around and work with one player but, again, I don’t always make that decision,” Tursonov said later. “With Emma, I walked away, yes.
“That was my choice. I could have stuck around, I could have agreed on everything that her team proposed but, deep down, I felt like that wasn’t the right thing to do.
“As difficult of a decision to walk away as it was, because I’ve never really walked away from a player, I felt like that was the right decision.
“Emotionally, I wanted to stay, but logically, I felt like I needed to leave. I felt like there were going to be problems later and I wanted to avoid them for my own peace of mind.”
Raducanu encountered a number of fitness issues in her first full season on the WTA Tour, including a left glute injury that caused her 4th mid-match retirement of the year, a sore back and side pulls, a hip injury, and blisters on her hand and feet.
She also struggled with Covid last December, and suffered a strained abdominal muscle in Nottingham in June, which forced her off the match court after just 7 games.
A wrist injury, which prompted her withdrawal from both the Transylvania Open and the BJK Cup finals, has kept her off the practice court for some weeks, although she has been training hard in the gym with Andy Murray’s former fitness trainer, Jez Green.
“Wrist injuries are never easy, but I think this one is under control,” Team GB captain Anne Keothavong said ahead of the BJK Cup Finals, where Britain managed to reach their first semi-final in 41 years despite the absence of the British No 1. “She’s got good people around her, and she’s used her time to really work on other areas of her fitness.
“Right now, from what I understand, it’s something that she will recover from, and she’s confident of that. She just needs a bit more time and Billie Jean King Cup is too soon.”
Raducanu has confirmed her first tournament of 2023 in what will be just her second full season on the WTA Tour, and in which the 20-year-old will seek to improve on her 17-19 record of wins and losses this year.
She is set to start her season at the ASB Classic in Auckland, having missed out on Great Britain’s team list for the new United Cup in Australia.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to New Zealand,” she said. “I’ve heard so many good things about the tournament. It is a great way to start off the Australian Open swing.”
Raducanu will join an impressive line-up as World No 7 Coco Gauff, former US Open champion Sloane Stephens, and Leylah Fernandez, whom she beat in the 2021 US Open final, will also feature in the main draw.
“I have heard that the tournament in New Zealand is great for players and fans,” Raducanu added. “New Zealand is known for its beautiful landscape and nature, so I hope I can get to explore some of the other beautiful parts whilst in my time there.”
ASB Classic Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin is delighted to have Raducanu in the field: “Emma has a huge profile in world tennis and is a young player of immense ability,” he said.
“Clearly her US Open triumph and journey was spectacular and so we are thrilled that Emma has decided to play in Auckland as part of her preparation for the Australian Open.
“She has had to cope with so much attention from media, fans and commercial interests as well as continue to develop as a player.
“In UK that is a level of pressure that can be overwhelming.
“Emma is showing that she can cope with this celebrity and is now working hard on her game to prove that her US Open triumph was only an indication of her capabilities.
“I am sure fans will want to throng into the ASB Tennis Arena to see her in action. It is very exciting.”
Raducanu’s celebrity status in the UK was underscored as she lit up 44 Christmas windows at Harrods luxury store in London on Thursday.
“Are you ready for tonight? We’ve got big work to do,” Raducanu tells a teddy bear in the Dior promotional video. “I think my job is quite important.
“I’m lighting up 44 windows that Dior have taken over. I think it’s the first time that any brand has ever taken over all of the shop windows at Harrods, so I hope I don’t mess that up.”
Raducanu also points out that she likes to dressing up for special occasions.
“I love opening gifts, a lot,” she says. “For me, to be getting ready for an event like this, I really cherish the occasion because so often I’m in sports clothes, I don’t really get the chance to dress up, so when I do I have a lot of fun with it.”
Lighting up the windows of the historic building, Raducanu was dressed in a #DiorSS23 floral dress by @MariaGraziaChiuri, and she also visited the Dior Cafe.
“This cafe is absolutely amazing, just walking around and seeing all the delicate details,” she said “Underground, there’s almost like a chamber of just amazing gingerbread houses.
“And my eyes would just light up, it was like a kid again. It’s a journey when you walk through each of those windows and you pass them, I think, that it’s amazing how much it can come to life.”
To view the full video, click HERE
The real hope for Raducanu is that she can light up the season next year.