Emma Raducanu has won the US Open final in a thrilling clash against Leyla Fernandez to become the first British woman to win a major title in 44 years.
The 18-year-old from Kent fell to the ground and put her hands over her face after beating the Canadian 6-4, 6-3, in front of 24,000 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
Raducanu is a double history maker as the first Brit to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and is the first qualifier – in either the men’s or women’s game – to win a major.
The first set was a nail-biter, with the games toing and froing from deuce to advantage and back to deuce again as the teenagers played fearless high-speed rallies from the baseline.
But in the second set, Fernandez’s wayward serving ultimately let her down and Raducanu was able to heap on pressure as the Canadian’s double faults handed her freebies.
The final game was fraught with controversy as Raducanu took time out for treatment after grazing her knee with the score at at 30-40.
Fernandez furiously remonstrated with the umpire, complaining that the Briton was slowing the game down while she was on a roll.
The game continued to yet another deuce before Raducanu – with a patch over her knee – sent down an ace on her third match point.
Life will never be the same again for the teenager as she claims a £1.8 million cheque – more than her entire career winnings to date – as well as moving up in the rankings from 150 to 23.
Emma Raducanu fell to the ground and put her hands over her face after beating the Canadian 6-4, 6-3, in front of 24,000 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
The 18-year-old drops to the ground after beating the Canadian 6-4, 6-3 at the Arthur Ashe
Raducanu shouts and clenches her fist after taking a point in the first set of the US Open
Raducanu opened up her knee in the final game with the scored tied up at 40-40, prompting furious complaints from Fernandez who believed she was playing for time
Fernandez complained furiously to the umpire as she felt Raducanu was using her leg injury to take a breather
Raducanu yells in jubilation as the crowd get on their feet to cheer the Brit on against the Canadian Fernandez
Raducanu rises to get herself over the top of a high ball to knock a return back to Fernandez
Raducanu sprints across the court to return a shot from the Canadian Fernandez during the first set of the final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium
Raducanu rues a missed point in the hard-fought first set against her Canadian opponent
Raducanu gives a shout after winning a point (left) and leaping into the air to fire off a serve
Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot to Emma Raducanu, of Britain, during the women’s singles final of the US Open
Fernandez strikes a two-handed forearm shot back to her opponent
Raducanu clenches her fist after taking a point in the first set of the final of the US Open
Suzanne Williams, Strength and Conditioning coach for Emma Raducanu aged 8-12 at the Parklangley Club in Beckenham, where Emma trained from age 6 get ready to watch her in the US Open Final
Raducanu yells after a point as she gives herself a morale boost after claiming another point against the Canadian
Raducanu returns a shot from Fernandez as they get underway in the US Open final
Raducanu gets herself set up to lash a backhand back to her opponent
Raducanu looks up to the stands as she walks out with her bag over her shoulders for the final
Raducanu and her opponent walk out to rapturous applause at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows
Former British professional tennis player, Viginia Wade, left, waits for play between Emma Raducanu, of Britain, and Leylah Fernandez, of Canada. Raducau is hoping to make history as the first British woman to win a major since Ms Wade at Wimbledon 44 years ago.
Fernandez of Canada waves to the fans as she takes to the court ahead of the final clash
The American fans go wild for Raducanu as she walks out onto the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Raducanu walks out onto the court at Arthur Ashe on Saturday afternoon hoping to make it a fairytale in New York
The atmosphere was electric at Raducanu’s home tennis club in Beckenham, southeast London, where a viewing party was hosted – as they had done for her run at Wimbledon earlier this summer.
Raducanu match is shown live on Channel 4 after ‘£30 million’ deal with Amazon amid pressure to make historic event free to British public
Scarlet Howes and Abul Taher for The Mail on Sunday
The nation came to a standstill last night after a last-minute deal between Amazon and Channel 4 enabled tennis fans to enjoy the final between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez for free.
The deal – rumoured to be worth more than £1million – meant millions of people in the UK were able to watch the match on terrestrial television and not on an internet subscription-based streaming channel.
Last week Raducanu became the first British female tennis player to reach a Grand Slam single final since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.
But there were fears many would miss the momentous occasion –including her friends and family who have watched her meteoric rise this summer but are unable to fly to the US to see her play at Flushing Meadow due to Covid restrictions.
All fees from the Channel 4 agreement will be reinvested into British women’s tennis to support the next generation of female British talent, Amazon said.
Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe, said: ‘Emma’s journey from qualification through to the US Open final at the age of 18 is a truly magical story for British sport and we think it’s important that we extend our coverage to as many people as possible to support her in this historic moment for women’s tennis.
‘Young tennis talent such as Emma need the right support to become the stars we see today and we’re delighted to be able to commit even more investment to the next generation of women’s tennis in the UK.’
Amazon’s streaming service costs each customer £79 a year and it has an estimated 9.5 million subscribers, according to Ofcom, the media regulator.
It offers a free 30-day trial, which can be cancelled at any time. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had yesterday called for the game to be available for free to watch, saying it would be a ‘great gesture’.
Last night he praised the move, saying: ‘The whole country will be behind the British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu, so I am delighted that Amazon Prime and Channel Four have responded to our call to make this historic sporting moment free to watch so that as many of us as possible can cheer her on.’
Joe Salisbury last night became the first Briton to win two doubles titles at a Grand Slam in the Open era after claiming the mixed doubles title at the US Open a day after winning the men’s doubles.
Salisbury and American partner Desirae Krawczyk beat Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos and El Salvador’s Marcelo Arevalo 7-5 6-2 at Flushing Meadows.
On Friday, Salisbury and his US partner Rajeev Ram beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the men’s doubles.
Cheers and applause erupted as Raducanu spoke to the media before walking out onto the court, with several teenage fans saying they were sure she was going to win.
Suzanne Williams, her former strength and conditioning coach, said: ‘It’s absolutely incredible just to see her develop and become this player when I knew her when she was so young, from 8-12 years old.
‘Of course you could see there was some incredible potential there but to see her on the screen in this environment is incredible.’
She added: ‘For girls to know that it’s in their reach, because they’re at the same place she was, it doesn’t feel too far removed from them, it’s just incredible for them to get this role model.’
Harry Bushnell, who coached her from the age of six to ten, said: ‘As a coach, you want to coach someone that goes all the way so it’s my first time of being involved in anybody that’s gotten this far and it’s an amazing feeling.’
Speaking about the media pressure that Raducanu has been under since her performance at Wimbledon, he said: ‘I just am obviously very protective of her, but I know she views pressure as a privilege.
‘I think she conducts herself really well I know that she got a bit of stick at Wimbledon with the way that ended but I was always confident that she would go away from that, dust herself off and come back stronger.’
TV presenter Gary Lineker begged Emma Radacanu to win the second set of the US Open final quickly so that people would be able to watch Match Of The Day.
He tweeted: ‘Come on @EmmaRaducanu. Fantastic first set. Please try and win the 2nd set so we can all concentrate on @BBCMOTD.’
Earlier, Manchester United star Marcus Rashford asked for the programme to be moved back to allow people to finish watching the tennis.
‘Do us a favour @GaryLineker push it back the tennis is on…’ he wrote.
Not since Ms Wade lifted her most famous title at Wimbledon in 1977 has a British woman even reached a grand slam singles final until now.
That the player to achieve the feat is an 18-year-old taking her first real steps in the professional game makes this one of the most extraordinary stories in all sport.
Ms Wade called Raducanu the ‘real thing’. She told ITV this week: ‘I can’t tell you how exciting it is.
‘We’ve been waiting such a long time for a British player on the women’s side to really come through. Every time you watch her you think she’s going to win every point out there. You don’t even get that nervous. It was remarkable.
‘I’m sure she is the real thing, you don’t get someone head and shoulders above that often and I think she’s one of those.
‘She’s stopping all her opponents in their tracks and she’s got an incredible future ahead of her. If it doesn’t happen on Saturday (win a grand slam) it’s going to happen sooner or later because she is really good.’
Even defeat would see Raducanu climb to 32nd in the rankings, putting her in contention to be seeded for her debut at the Australian Open in January.
She has already earned a minimum £900,000 from the nine matches she has won in New York.
Fernandez is just two months older than Raducanu and the pair have known each other since they competed at under-12 level.
Speaking just before walking out, Raducanu said: ‘It’s so exciting to be in my second Grand Slam and in the final and going out there today I can’t wait to just get stuck in and I’m sure it will be a positive experience’
Raducanu (right) is taking on Leylah Fernandez, 19, (left) in front of 24,000 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York – the first all-teenage women’s final at Flushing Meadows in 22 years.
Raducanu looks focused ahead of her match against the Canadian Fernandez who she has known from youth tennis since she was 12
Raducanu, wearing a red and blue ensemble made by Nike, in the tunnel before heading out
The match was preceded by a poignant ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, with a massive Stars and Stripes flag unfurled by female cadets, while a ‘9-11-01’ stencil has been painted onto the court
Female cadets stand beside a stencil of 9/11/01 in a ceremony to mark 20 years since the terror attacks in New York City ahead of the match
A massive Stars and Stripes is unfurled in a ceremony to mark 20 years since 9/11 before the match got underway
Fans stand for the national anthem at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on Saturday afternoon
Members of the Military take part in the opening ceremony before the Women’s Singles final match between Emma Raducanu of Great Britain and Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada
Harry Bushnell, coach to Emma Raducanu aged 6-10 at the Parklangley Club in Beckenham, where Emma trained from age 6 gets ready to watch her in the US Open Final
‘We first encountered each other because I was born in Toronto and she was Canadian, so we kind of made a little relationship back then,’ said Raducanu, who won their only previous meeting in the girls’ singles at Wimbledon three years ago.
‘Obviously since then we’ve both come very far in our games and as people. I’m sure it’s going to be extremely different to when we last encountered each other. But we’re both playing good tennis so it will be a good match.’
The pair share an immigrant background. Raducanu, who moved to the UK when she was two, has a Romanian father and Chinese mother while Fernandez has Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Filipino heritage.
The Canadian is coached by her father Jorge, who believes the final is a significant moment for the women’s game.
The former footballer said: ‘I see they’re both bringing a type of game that is not common right now on the circuit.
‘I see that they bring a flair that is very unique for them. I’m glad that they’re touching the Asian community. I think that’s a huge opportunity in the women’s game.
‘I think it’s just positive for the game. Obviously I want Leylah to win. That goes without saying. But I just think that the match-up and what we’re seeing, those two ladies are touching a lot of young girls.
‘I’m getting messages about, ‘Please pass this to Leylah’, little girls saying, ‘You’re making us believe’. This can only be good for the tennis game and the WTA altogether.’
£100MILLION girl Emma: Historic place in US Open final set to make 18-year-old one of world’s richest sporting stars
By Scarlet Howes and Abul Taher for The Mail on Sunday
Barely out of school, Emma Raducanu is tipped to earn £100 million, win Sports Personality of the Year – and maybe even get an honour from the Queen.
Even before she stepped foot on court last night in the US Open final, the 18-year-old had made modern sporting history, becoming the first British woman to reach a grand slam single finals in 44 years.
Her fairy tale in New York has buoyed a pandemic-weary nation and is the icing on the cake for the prodigious Kent teenager, still celebrating her recent A* in maths and A in economics for her A-levels.
Last night, bookmakers William Hill said Emma was 10-11 favourite to become the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which will be announced in December.
It would be a remarkable feat in an Olympic year to beat gold medallists such as Tom Daley and Adam Peaty, but the possibility reflects her stratospheric rise since entering this summer’s Wimbledon as a virtual unknown.
Emma Raducanu’s US Open final against Leylah Fernandez is to be aired on Channel 4
Raducanu during a training session in New York on Friday ahead of her historic clash with Fernandez
She insists she will not be a favourite for the final against Fernandez as she is only a qualifier
Raducanu’s epic performances in New York have drawn in a legion of new excited supporters
If she wins, Emma would become the second youngest person to lift the BBC trophy, after Scottish swimmer Ian Black who won the prize in 1958 at the age of 17. Betfred put her at 4-6 odds-on favourite to win the gong, ahead of Daley at 9-4 and Peaty at 8-1.
William Hill have also given her 10-1 odds to get an honour from the Queen – and she certainly has royal support, with Prince William and Kate cheering her on at home. Rupert Adams, a spokesman for the bookmakers, said: ‘I think the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is possible because it celebrates outstanding achievement in sport, which is what she has done already. The fact she is a woman helps, as she will get a lot of female votes as well.
‘In terms of the Queen’s honours, it may be a bit early in her career, but it is possible, if the stars align. You never know, the Government may fancy a really good feel-good story. But it may be like an OBE and not a damehood.’
Until this summer, Emma was ranked outside the top 300 players and had earned just £30,000 in winnings before gaining her wildcard entry at Wimbledon – where she got to the final 16.
Now in demand, she has been interviewed in Vogue magazine and says she has overcome her initial shyness to find her confidence.
Ahead of last night, when the nation came to a halt to watch her take on Leylah Fernandez at Flushing Meadows, she was already guaranteed £900,000 even if she lost – but experts say that is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Royals, tennis legends, world leaders and celebrities have piled praise on ‘Teen Queen’ Emma Raducanu after she blazed into the US Open final at the age of just 18
Brand expert Jonathan Shalit, chairman of the InterTalent Group, said a huge range of companies will now want to sign her up to advertise their brands, adding: ‘I would say that she has the potential to earn £100 million over the next five years if she keeps winning.
‘She is completely fresh and new, she is gorgeous and always happy, which is what we are all looking for as we come out of the pandemic.’
Born in Toronto to a Chinese mother and Romanian father, Emma Raducanu – or Radders to her friends – has a broad appeal according to experts and could easily eclipse Naomi Osaka, currently the world’s highest-earning female athlete, who has pocketed £43 million on and off the court.
Simon Chadwick, an expert in sport business strategy and marketing, who is global professor of sport at Emlyon Business School in Lyon, France, said: ‘Raducanu is a classic Gen Z teenager – mixed heritage, social media savvy, aspirational, which she combines with what seems like a positive predisposition towards life.
Hence, one can imagine that some of the deals she already has, with the likes of Nike, could become more lucrative for her.
‘At the same time, some of the big mobile brands as well as digital platforms will probably be interested.’ Emma is already managed by Max Eisenbud, of the IMG agency, who secured £20 million in sponsorship for tennis star Maria Sharapova.