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Emma Raducanu learns to live with the ‘challenges’ of winning a Grand Slam at 18

‘I don’t think anyone would say, ‘I wish I didn’t win a Grand Slam at 18″‘: Emma Raducanu blocks out the noise in Nottingham as she learns to live with the ‘challenges’ of winning a major so young

  • Emma Raducanu returns to Nottingham where her adventure began this week
  • A year ago she lost in straight sets to Harriet Dart on the grass courts there
  • But Raducanu went on the win her first Grand Slam at the US Open at age 18
  • Since her victory at Flushing Meadow she has had to learn to live with attention

At the arena where her whole, extraordinary adventure began, there was a graphic sense on Monday of how the world has changed for Emma Raducanu and the attention she will have to learn to live with.

Precisely a year ago, she lost in straight sets to Harriet Dart on the grass courts here and her post-match discussion of that outcome did not elicit a single sentence of coverage.

On Monday, photographers were asked by her entourage to leave the public practice area where she prepared for her first grass match of the summer, in the same tournament. The presence of cameras in such a place has always been routine.

Star Emma Raducanu will have to learn to live with the attention after her world changed

Raducanu did not seem to have directed the request for the photographers’ removal from a court where at least 40 spectators, many with phone cameras, remained. 

But there was a hint of her wish for seclusion when she was asked if she would share details of the ‘new training model’ she spoke of when parting company with coach Torben Beltz in April.

‘Even if I sort of had this revolutionary training, I don’t need to share it because that’s my business and why would I tell my opponent how I’m training,’ she said. ‘So, no.’ 

Her regime does not seem to entail anything more complex than ‘training hard’.

The 19-year-old insisted she did not need to share the details of her 'new training model¿

The 19-year-old insisted she did not need to share the details of her ‘new training model’

For all this, there was a positive disposition from the 19-year-old as she discussed her match against the 55th ranked Swiss Viktorija Golubic — her first game on grass since her retirement from Wimbledon’s fourth round while trailing Ajla Tomljanovic by a set and three love last July.

It is a measure of the challenges Raducanu has faced since those heady two weeks at Flushing Meadow last September that she was giving consideration to the question of whether she wished that US Open victory had not happened so quickly.

She said: ‘I don’t think anyone would say, “I wish I didn’t win a Grand Slam at 18”. That’s what I set out to do when I was playing tennis. 

Raducanu insisted she did not regret winning a Grand Slam so early on in her tennis career

Raducanu insisted she did not regret winning a Grand Slam so early on in her tennis career

‘I wanted to win a Grand Slam and I did that. Great that it happened very soon and it definitely comes with a lot of challenges. But managing and learning and growing through those adversities that I’ve faced — I would much rather have that. 

‘I’m sort of doing the work from now because I did it a bit backwards.

‘But I think I know what I’m doing, I’m trusting in what I’m doing.’

Though she said she had no new coach in the pipeline, she did leave the French Open free of the injuries which have limited her progress.

Down time for Raducanu has included a public role in the weekend’s Jubilee celebrations. Down time for Dart, whose high point since beating Raducanu here has been a fourth round at Indian Wells, has entailed renovating part of her house. 

A year ago Raducanu lost in straight sets to Harriet Dart on the grass courts in Nottingham

A year ago Raducanu lost in straight sets to Harriet Dart on the grass courts in Nottingham

She progressed to the second round here again with an emphatic win over Croat Donna Vekic.

Dart’s world might seem the easier and gentler but Raducanu displays a steel and pragmatism that suggests she will be able to shut out the white noise and focus on the summer ahead.

She said: ‘Results, at this point, I’ve stopped thinking about it because there is no use in doing that. If you are doing the right things it will follow. It is not always going to be smooth sailing.

‘But I’m still 19, I’ve already won a Grand Slam and I can sort of take my time. Yes, I trust what I do.’

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