Emma Raducanu completed her stunning fairy tale in New York last night, winning the US Open in a nailbiting final and making history as the first British woman to take a tennis Grand Slam title in 44 years.
The 18-year-old – who was sitting her A-levels earlier this year – was dubbed a ‘bloody marvel’ after injuring her knee in a fall, but rose to serve an ace to seal a 6-4, 6-3 victory over rival Leylah Fernandez.
‘If you believe in yourself then anything is possible,’ the teenager declared moments before stepping on to the court for the biggest match of her young life.
Falling to the ground at the end of a tense 1 hour 51-minute match, Emma cried tears of joy as she won the tournament without dropping a single set. ‘It’s a miracle’ said former Wimbledon champion Chris Evert. ‘This is a kid no one had ever heard of until a couple of weeks ago. Now she’s the biggest name in sport. She’s stolen all our hearts.’
Emma Raducanu cradles the championship trophy after winning the US Open on Saturday
Emma Raducanu completed her stunning fairy tale in New York last night, winning the US Open in a nailbiting final and making history as the first British woman to take a tennis Grand Slam title in 44 years
Pictured Raducanu shouts with joy after winning the first set of her match against Leylah Fernandez
Raducanu falls to the ground as she celebrates winning the US Open final on Saturday
Raducanu lies on the ground as she celebrates her victory against Leylah Fernandez at the US Open
After her victory, Emma flashed her trademark huge grin and said: ‘Thank you to everyone here in New York for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match all the way through to the finals. Leylah’s always going to play great tennis and always going to fight… I knew I had to dig deep.
‘I think it shows that the future of women’s tennis – and just the depth of the game right now – is so great. I think every single player in the women’s draw definitely has a shot of winning at any tournament.
‘I hope that the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the greatest legends’, she added, naming Billie Jean King, who presented her with the trophy.
As jubilant Britons celebrated the teen being anointed the new Queen of the court, the 23,771-strong crowd in New York’s packed Arthur Ashe Stadium roared their approval and gave the new champ a standing ovation.
But missing from Emma’s big day were her parents Renee and Ian as draconian Covid restrictions had kept them out of America.
Raducanu celebrates winning a point during the US Open final on Saturday
Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu celebrates defeating Greece’s Maria Sakkari to reach the Women’s Final during day eleven of the US Open on Friday
Back at home, the Queen was among the first to congratulate Emma, sending a message reading: ‘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.’
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall said: ‘Congratulations to Emma Raducanu on your US Open win – what a fantastic achievement! We are all so proud. Well done to Leylah Fernandez today too. An outstanding match between two inspiring young women – we can’t wait to see where you go next.’
Emma Raducanu of the United Kingdom takes selfies following her victory against Shelby Rogers on Day 8 of the US Open
And the Duchess of Cambridge tweeted: ‘Huge congratulations Emma Raducanu on your stunning performances and historic Grand Slam victory!
‘Incredible – we are all so proud of you. Leylah Fernandez well done on your amazing achievements at this year’s US Open, it’s been a pleasure to watch.’
The game ended in dramatic style when Emma, from Bromley, Kent, reached for a wide shot and fell to the floor, badly grazing her knee. With just two points to go before potentially clinching victory, medics had to be called as blood poured from the wound.
Moments later, Emma was back on her feet to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977.
Emma celebrates as she proudly holds up the championship trophy after winning the US Open
Wade, who also won the US Open in 1968, was in the crowd to watch the historic win, leaping to her feet at the end of the game.
As well as the trophy, Emma will pocket £1.8 million in winnings. But she had to forgo the traditional post-match champagne as she is under 21, the legal age to drink alcohol in the US.
In Beckenham, South-East London, jubilant friends and supporters at her home club of Parklangley cheered and screamed as Emma powered her way to victory over 19-year-old Canadian Fernandez.
After her victory, Raducanu praised her opponent, saying: ‘First of all, I really want to congratulate Leylah and her team, she played some incredible tennis and has beaten some of the top players in the world. The level was extremely high and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.’
Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez embrace after Emma won the second set of their Women’s Singles final match on Saturday
Meanwhile, Fernandez, wiped away tears and said: ‘Today is going to be a hard to recuperate from but Emma played amazing. Well done top her and her team.’
And in reference to the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, she added: ‘I know today is especially hard for New York and the United States.
‘I just hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been in the past 20 years.’
Emma is now tipped to earn up to £100 million from sponsorship deals, is favourite to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and may even be honoured by the Queen.
The teen rose brilliantly to the biggest game of her life despite having dropped out of Wimbledon during the quarter-finals in July after suffering a panic attack on court. But all that was forgotten yesterday as she stormed to victory. Emma said she hoped her historic win would inspire others: ‘It means a lot to me that one day a little girl or boy might pick up a racket because they watched me play tennis.’
Evert described Emma as ‘the future of women’s tennis’, saying: ‘She gave everything she had. She is the most exciting new talent to come on the scene in a long time.
Pictured: Emma Raducanu on the cover of British Vogue
‘This is just the beginning of what this young woman can do. We will be seeing a lot more of her, that is for sure. This is just the start.’
It has been a meteoric rise for Emma who became the first qualifier – male or female – to win a Grand Slam.
Her Romanian father Ian and Chinese-born mother Renee are believed to have watched the game alone in the UK and called their daughter moments after her win.
Emma, who was born in Toronto but moved to Britain with her parents when she was two, now stands to become one of the richest women in sport. Lucrative deals with Nike and racket manufacturers Wilson have already earned her a £1million fortune but that figure will be dwarfed by her future earnings
One sports agent said: ‘She can easily earn £100 million or more. She appeals to a broad crowd and is so young she can only get better. The offers have already been pouring in. She’s the biggest thing in sports right now. The sky’s the limit.’
Harry Bushnell, who coached her from the age of six to ten, said: ‘I think it’s a testament to her because she’s such a pleasant person, on and off the court, and I think that’s why so many people are getting behind her.
‘Parklangley club will always be behind her every step of the way.’
As the result came in, one woman ran into the street where Emma lives shouting ‘Yes, come on!’ before running back inside.
Christine Whatling, 81, who watched Emma grow up, expressed her joy, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is brilliant, she deserves it, she’s worked really hard and played really well.
‘I am so happy for her. I think everyone is very proud of her. I remember seeing her when she was at Wimbledon and going, ‘Hang on, that’s the girl who practices tennis outside!’
‘What she’s achieved is amazing.’