How British teenager Emma Raducanu has become a headline act at Wimbledon

Emma Raducanu is not ready for her Wimbledon fairytale to end as she made history by reaching the fourth round.

Emma Raducanu celebrates a point whilst playing against Sorana Cirstea in the third round.
Emma Raducanu celebrates a point whilst playing against Sorana Cirstea in the third round.

The 18-year-old became the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 in the open era with a stunning 6-3 7-5 win over world No 45 Sorana Cirstea.

It is a miraculous achievement from Raducanu, who is ranked 338 in the world and was handed a wild card, given she only played her first ever WTA Tour match last month and put her tennis career on hold during the coronavirus pandemic in order to concentrate on her A-Levels.

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She now meets world No 75 Ajla Tomljanovic in the fourth round on Monday – the headline act on Court One – and she does not want her journey to finish just yet.

Nigel Sears and Emma Raducanu at a practice session at Wimbledon on Sunday.

“It’s incredible. I’m so grateful for this wild card,” she said. “Honestly, I just wanted to make the most out of it, try to show that I earned it, try to make the most out of it. I’m really grateful for the All England Club’s support in taking a chance on me.

“And the way that I’m approaching my matches is each time I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why not?’. Like today, I was like, ‘Someone has to be in the second week, why not me?’. I think that’s how I’m approaching it.

“I’m just trying to stay here as long as possible. As I said, I’m just having such a blast. Everything is so well taken care of that it’s such a pleasure to be here.

“My emotions were I just couldn’t put them into words really. I was so overwhelmed.

Emma Raducanu at a practice session on Sunday.

“The last point, I kind of just dropped my racquet and fell to the floor.

“It was just also instinctive and in the moment. I had no idea what just happened.

“Right now I’m on such a buzz and such a high.”

The prospect of an outing on Court One on the middle Saturday of her debut Wimbledon was unthinkable at the start of the week, but Raducanu looked like she belonged on the biggest stage, with a fine display.

She showed great attacking instinct, hitting 30 winners, and also showed tenacity, coming through an epic second set, which included a 15-minute game.

And Raducanu enjoyed every moment of her first main show court outing.

She said: “I thought if I’m not going to enjoy Court One at Wimbledon, home crowd, like what are you going to enjoy? This is the cherry at the top of tennis.

“I was just so excited. When I heard the crowd just roar for the first time, I was like, ‘Wow, they’re so behind me’. I was just feeding off of their energy.

“I’m just so excited I get to play in front of them again. I think yesterday I came out here and I sat courtside for about five minutes.

“They let me get a feel for the court, which I think was very valuable because when I went out there today, I sort of knew what to expect a little bit.”

One look at Raducanu was enough to convince tennis coach Matt James that he had a special talent on his hands.

A chance meeting with Nigel Sears, then working with the 15-year-old on a consultancy basis, at Wimbledon three years ago led to Welshman James being offered the chance to coach her day to day.

“You could tell straight away that she’s pretty special,” James said. “The mindset and the maturity on the match court you don’t see very often, I hadn’t seen at all really. So that was quite exciting.

“You knew she could handle the big occasions and it’s just a case of making those big improvements on the court to back it up.

“Obviously she’s a really bright girl and you can tell she’s so determined to excel in everything she does. It’s no surprise that she’s really good academically.

“When we were at Bromley (Tennis Centre), we were playing tennis in between her school sessions, whereas a lot of players her level would have stopped the education after GCSEs.

“But she’s really gritty and determined to do both very well, so credit to her.”

She did not play a professional match between February 2020 and June 2021, so the fact she finds herself in the fourth round of Wimbledon four weeks later is an astounding achievement.