Sue Barker has told Emma Raducanu to learn how to win and how to enjoy her tennis after claiming the 19-year-old “missed out on the fun things” as a result of her unprecedented US Open victory. Raducanu became the first qualifier in tennis history to lift a Grand Slam title in Flushing Meadows last year, but has experienced mixed results since.
Raducanu made history when she won the US Open as a qualifier ranked down at world No 150 last year, failing to drop a set through ten matches en route to her first title. It was just her fourth professional tournament and she had never won a match on the official WTA Tour outside of a Major.
The British No 1 then skyrocketed up the rankings, allowing her to gain direct entry into the biggest events on the tour, and she has struggled at times during her first year on the pro circuit. Raducanu has a 19-23 win-loss record since winning the 2021 US Open, and has now been told that her unprecedented victory could have cost her the “fun” of a typical rise up the rankings.
Comparing her own career to Raducanu’s, Sue Barker told The Telegraph: “For me, the happiest years of my career were when I was learning the game. Even though I was writing my little sad letters from America, I remember my big wins: beating Margaret Court and Evonne and then playing Chrissie in the final at Madison Square Garden.
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“Taking on the people I’d watched at Wimbledon, I felt like I’d arrived, you know? But I’d also been building up gradually. Whereas Emma won a major in the fifth tournament she played. So she missed out on the fun things.”
The pressure is now finally somewhat off Raducanu after she lost her first-round match at the US Open when she returned to the site of her triumph this year. She fell from world No 11 to No 83 as a result and has since started to climb back up the rankings, sitting at world No 67.
With her ranking now more accurately reflecting where she is in her young career, the former pro-turned-BBC icon has told the teenager that she must learn how to win regular matches and have fun doing it. “Now that her ranking has dropped, she can get on with just winning a few matches,” Barker added.
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