Attention turns again to Emma Raducanu ahead of her next tournament appearance at the Transylvania Open in Romania, her father’s country of birth, which starts on 25 October, as she becomes a Dior Ambassador and advises on advising Amazon Prime on a multi-million pound cash injection into British tennis.
Being able to wear a dress like that made with all the magic in the Dior ateliers was a totally unique experience. The detailed embroidery was exceptional and I was so honoured to attend my first movie premiere in it. Maria Grazia’s work empowers women to feel confident in the iconic Dior cut, which I feel is very unique. Emma Raducanu
The 18-year old’s hunt for a full-time coach also continues, with the likes of Argentine Carlos Rodriguez, Australian Darren Cahill and Spain’s Esteban Carril all apparently in the running, although Raducanu confirmed on Sunday she is working with the Spaniard, the former coach of fellow British player Johanna Konta, on a trial basis this week.
Carril, who has previously worked with the LTA, helped Konta climb from outside the top 100 to top 10 in the world and, clearly, has the experience Raducanu and her team are seeking, and according to both the BBC and the Times, he is set to become her next coach.
The Spaniard was with Konta when she made her first Grand Slam semi-final at the 2016 Australian Open and won her maiden WTA title in Stanford, but they surprisingly split at the end of that season after two years, leaving him to continue to work with the LTA and British players, including Katie Swan and Jay Clarke.
Carril also played a small part in helping to develop Raducanu’s game, according to Mark Petchey, who worked with the new British No 1 for a few months in 2020.
“Emma was going out to play a British Tour match [in July 2020] and she said to me, ‘I can’t hit a kick serve’,” Petchey recalled to the Telegraph. “I didn’t want to address it until after the match, but it was because her technique needed a rejig.
“I had some help on that from Esteban Carril and now it’s looking a nice, smooth, technically correct motion.”
According to other reports, though, her hopes of finding a new permanent coach are being scuppered by wage demands ever since parting company with Andrew Richardson, when Raducanu cited the need for someone with more experience at the top level of the women’s game was needed.
“According to a well-placed source, one of the issues that has arisen in the search for a new coach is the amount of money potential candidates are asking for,” a report by the MailOnline read. “They are looking at the high expectations for a player in an environment which can see anyone beat anyone.
“Few jobs in the sport will come with more scrutiny to deal with.”
Richardson, 47, helped Raducanu to her sensational US Open triumph in September, where she became the first qualifier in history to capture a Grand Slam title.
Her debut came at Wimbledon in July where, under Nigel Sears, she made it to the last 16 before retiring with breathing difficulties in her match with Ajla Tomljanovic, after which she parted ways with Sears, who has coached former Top 5 players like Amanda Coetzer, Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic.
Prior to playing at Indian Wells, Raducanu said: “At the end of the day you’re out there on your own and you have to be your own coach on the court.”
Her first match back after her heroics New York did not to go plan, however, as she beaten in straight sets by Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
Raducanu planned an extensive run of tournaments in Europe but pulled out at the last minute from the Kremlin Cup in Moscow this week, and is looking ahead to competing in Abu Dhabi in December where she will face Belinda Bencic in a exhibition match at the Mubadala Tennis Championships held at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City.
“Hey everyone, it’s Emma Raducanu, what a year it’s been,” Raducanu wrote on social media. “I can’t wait to start the next season in Abu Dhabi. See you on December 16.”
The usual 6-player men’s tournament will also take place alongside Raducanu’s exhibition match.
Rafael Nadal is the defending champion, having defeated Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2019 final.
Now ranked 24, Raducanu is able to enter the biggest tournaments on the WTA Tour, but has had little time to adjust to going from a little-known qualifier to a Grand Slam champion.
Off the court, Raducanu is also having quite the year, becoming a household name after her win at the US Open in September, making her the first British woman to win a major title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
In the weeks that followed, Raducanu has made her Met Gala debut, played tennis with the Duchess of Cambridge, and mingled with the stars at the world premiere of ‘No Time To Die’.
At the latter, she was wearing an elegant Grecian-style dress by Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, which was a sign of what was to come as Raducanu has since been announced as Dior’s newest global ambassador.
Raducanu’s new role spans both fashion and beauty, and will see her fronting the womenswear collections as well as Dior skincare and make-up.
“The 18-year-old British tennis virtuoso – winner of the 2021 US Open – has already shaken up the codes with her unique game style, multicultural personality, authenticity and extraordinary career,” read a statement from the French fashion house.
It is another sponsorship deal orchestrated by her management company, IMG, and adds to her own growing collection, which includes an endorsement deal with jewellers Tiffany and Co.
The teenager wore a Gucci dress to the premiere of the latest Bond film and soon after decided to tie herself to the fashion house.
“It felt heavenly!” she told Vogue. “Being able to wear a dress like that made with all the magic in the Dior ateliers was a totally unique experience.
“The detailed embroidery was exceptional and I was so honoured to attend my first movie premiere in it.
“Maria Grazia’s work empowers women to feel confident in the iconic Dior cut, which I feel is very unique,” she added.
“The sincerity of her approach and the way she turns shows into collective and meaningful events unquestionably influenced me in my choice.”
According to The Telegraph, Raducanu is also advising Amazon Prime on a multi-million pound cash injection to help find the next generation of women tennis stars in Britain.
The pot for the future of the game was raised by the deal the streaming service secured with Channel 4 to make her US Open final free-to-air.
Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport in Europe, said Raducanu was enthusiastic about playing a key role in deciding where the money would be spent.
“It’s early days, but we want to make the biggest difference we can – particularly to young women’s tennis in this country,” Green said. “We’d love to [find the next Raducanu]. It’s so important to have these figures that other girls and boys can look up to.”
Raducanu’s final in New York, which was shared with Channel 4 after it offered a ‘seven-figure’ fee, was Amazon’s ‘biggest tennis event ever’.
“Now there is a whole new wave of interest in women’s tennis in Britain, which is fantastic,” Green added.
Boosting grass-roots tennis has already been identified as an ambition by the 18-year-old and she discussed access to tennis during a phone call with the Prime Minister in the days after her fairy-tale triumph in New York.
With the likes of Andy Murray critical of previous efforts by the LTA to boost the amateur game, Amazon Prime has promised to make a ‘conscious decision about what makes the most difference’.
“Who could have imagined that would happen?” Green added. “We aren’t taking any credit for it but we helped two young players and guess what? They are doing well now.
“I’d love to see a similar sort of difference that we can make moving with young talent.
“This is a rare, rare moment. A rare moment globally, let alone for the UK.
“I think we do need to capitalise on it. It’s great to be able to contribute to that.”
The LTA quickly enlisted Raducanu to promote its LTA Youth programme after her run at Wimbledon, which is aimed at children aged 4-18 and designed to help children of all abilities and backgrounds enjoy the benefits of playing tennis.