Emma Raducanu had an audience with His Majesty King Charles II on Tuesday when she received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) from him at Windsor Castle.
It's been great to receive my honour today from His Majesty the King - I feel extremely grateful. Emma Raducanu
The 20-year old British No 1 and former US Open champion said she was ‘extremely grateful’ after meeting the Monarch.
Raducanu was awarded the honour for services to tennis at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.
From Bromley in south-east London, Raducanu won the US Open in September 2021, when she was 18 years old, to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade in 1977, and the first qualifier of any nationality to do so, without dropping a set.
The former pupil of Newstead Wood School in Orpington beamed as she posed for pictures after meeting the King.
“It’s been great to receive my honour today from His Majesty the King – I feel extremely grateful,” she said in a statement issued to the media by her agent.
The Labour MP Dame Nia Griffith, who was conferred with her dame-hood at the same ceremony, told the BBC of Raducanu: “I think it is fantastic seeing a young person [achieve] the success that she had and I think obviously now she faces that incredibly challenging situation of coping with that success and coping also with disappointment.
“And I certainly think it is wonderful to see young people being praised and being rewarded and let’s make sure we give every young person the opportunities so that they can develop their talents to the full.”
Having reached the Top 10, Raducanu’s first full year on the WTA Tour was marred by setbacks and she ended the year ranked No 75 in the world nursing a right wrist injury, one of several sustained during the season.
For the occasion at Windsor Castle, Raducanu wore head-to-toe Dior, the fashion brand for which she has served as an ambassador since her US Open win.
The short-sleeved black lace dress, which was topped off by a wide-brimmed Andalusian hat, is part of the current Cruise collection from the French fashion house and takes as its lead from all things Andalusian.
Unveiled in the baking heat of Seville in June, the clothes line combines frothily feminine lace with more masculine-looking equestrian-inspired tailoring.
It was not Raducanu’s first meeting with royalty, having played tennis with the then Duchess of Cambridge, now the Princess of Wales, In September 2021 and, later that month, attending the ‘No Time To Die’ world premiere along with members of the royal family, including Prince William and King Charles.
Queen Elizabeth II wrote to Raducanu after her success in New York: “I send my congratulations to you on your success in winning the United States Open Tennis Championships. It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication.
“I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players. I send my warmest good wishes to you and your many supporters.”
Raducanu was awed by the late Queen’s letter, saying at the time: “It meant everything to get a message from Her Majesty. She’s such a great inspiration and role model for the whole country so to have a note from her.
“I was extremely honoured and very very grateful that she took notice of my tennis. I can’t believe it. I’m maybe going to frame that letter or something.”
More recently, Raducanu attended a dinner at Kensington Palace to celebrate ‘The Fabulous World of Dior at Harrods’ after switching on the Christmas lights at the famous luxury London department store on 10 November.
She has also revealed her sense of humour after spilling coffee down herself while out in London with friends and family.
Sharing a photo of herself on Instagram, she wrote: “2023 resolution 🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️ wish I could just make my mouth w my food and drinks.”
Raducanu has been working hard on her physical conditioning with fitness specialist Jez Green ahead of the 2023 season.
Green, who worked with Andy Murray for several years, focuses beyond just building up strength and fitness and concentrates on how an athlete moves, building a long-term plan to enable players to get into the best possible shape for their matches.
Raducanu has yet to fully recover from her wrist injury, but has been practising with her left hand, allowing her to work on her footwork and movement on court in the meantime.
She is set to play an exhibition match against Ons Jabeur at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which runs from 16-18 December at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, before beginning her preparations for the Australian Open in January with her first appearance at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
“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.”