Emma Raducanu’s pitch-perfect Mandarin and admission her ‘tough’ parents’ communist childhoods contributed to her self-belief and success could make her a billion-dollar star in China with the country already unashamedly trying to claim the British tennis player as their own.
President Xi and his party officials are even said to be pondering giving the rare honour of naturalised status to the teenager from Bromley whose Chinese fans have already nicknamed her the ‘Dongbei girl’ – a nod to her mother’s ancestral home 700 miles east of Beijing where Emma spends the summer with her grandmother.
The new US Open champion, whose father is Romanian and grew up under Ceausescu, has already been chosen as the new face of Tiffany jewellery in Asia and is in starry company with Beyonce and Jay-Z the other fresh ambassadors for the brand.
Billion-dollar behemoths such as BMW, Audi, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are said to be fighting for her signature because they see her as their best chance of making a bigger mark because she is Eurasian. She already has a trainer and clothing contract with Nike and a racquet sponsorship with Wilson, who are expected to be giving her a multi-million-dollar pay rise after Saturday’s win in New York.
Dr Lingling Liu, managing director of China Sport Business Consulting in Beijing, said: ‘Tennis is a very popular sport, and as a female with a multicultural background that ticks a lot of boxes, she could be very successful commercially,’ adding she believes it could make her the world’s first $1billion female sportswoman.
Dr Liu added it was no coincidence that she is represented by IMG agent Max Eisenbud, who helped Maria Sharapova become the world’s richest female sports star and worked with Chinese tennis star Li Na. She told the Telegraph: ‘The sky is her limit – she is in the good hands of IMG. People are talking about her mother’s side, her language capabilities and the possibilities of whether she will be naturalised by the Chinese’.
Experts have said that her historic grand slam victory is ‘big news’ on China’s state-censored channels, who have become obsessed with her love of Mandarin, her annual visits to see her grandmother in Shenyang, her work on the local municipal tennis courts as well as how she unwinds binge-watching Taiwanese TV shows.
The country’s state-run press agency, Xinhua gloated that it was Raducanu’s ‘Chinese style of inner faith’ that drove her to victory. The blanket coverage of her success also suggests that China’s ruling Communist Party believe Emma won’t damage its values and political ideas.
The clip where the teenager thanked her Chinese fans in Mandarin has been watched 600million times and shared millions of times on the social media platform Weibo. Speaking with a Dongbei accent, she said: ‘Hi everyone, I’d like to say thank you to you all. I hope you enjoy watching my tennis. I’m so happy to win. Love you all.’
And describing her mother and her family from north-east China, this time in English, Emma said: ‘They are so mentally resilient – it’s like nothing can bring them down. I would say I take a big part of my inspiration from her. My mum has worked very hard’.
Experts believe the sky’s the limit for Emma Raducanu, pictured in New York yesterday in front of her new Nike advert, with China jostling to claim the Briton as their own and could offer her the honour of naturalised status
Raducanu’s parents Ian (top right) and Renee Raducanu (bottom left) have been hugely influential in their daughter’s remarkable journey (pictured at Wimbledon). Romanian Ian and Renee, who is Chinese, were living in Toronto, Canada, when only child Emma was born, and the family moved to the UK when she was two. She admits their communist backgrounds were hugely influential
Tennis sensation Emma Raducanu, 18, led the glamorous arrivals at the Met Gala last night as she wowed the crowd in a stunning black and white Chanel ensemble
The media in China and south-east Asia have hailed the star as ‘Chinese’ while millions have also been posting about Emma on China’s state-backed social network Weibo
The making of a global superstar: How British Davis Cup tennis ace spotted Emma Raducanu hitting balls with her dad aged FOUR… and set her on road to glory
Raducanu’s home in a cul-de-sac in Bromley, south-east London when she was competing at Wimbledon this summer
She was just a little girl enjoying a tennis knock-about with her doting dad in a local Bromley park.
But there was something – even at the age of four – about the way Emma Raducanu was striking the ball that caught the eye of passing tennis coach Richard Whichello.
So ‘unusually exceptional’ was her potential that Mr Whichello, a former British junior No1 who once represented Britain in the Davis Cup, couldn’t resist approaching her father, Ian, to say how talented she was.
Without that encounter, the world might never have heard of tennis’s newest global superstar. If Mr Whichello hadn’t struck up that conversation, the so-called ‘Fairytale of New York’ might never have happened.
For 14 years after that father and pint-sized daughter rally, Emma is celebrating making sporting history by winning the US Open – the first British woman to win a major title for 44 years since Virginia Wade lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977.
Here was an ordinary teenager with a rare talent from a humble three-bedroomed semi in one of the less scenic parts of suburbia who not only went to the winners’ ball, but pocketed £1.8million in prize money and praise from all who witnessed her stunning victory – from the tennis greats to Her Majesty the Queen.
‘Oh, I say!’ as the late, great tennis commentator Dan Maskell might have said. And all this without losing her charming sense of wonder at her own meteoric success, even admitting she was so convinced she’d be knocked out in the first round, she’d booked a flight home two weeks before the final.
Indeed, she joked her original US Open goal was simply to win enough money to replace her lost Airpods, cost £109. She can afford more than 16,000 pairs of the wireless earphones now – possibly even more with talk of the multi-million pound deals expected to be laid at her nimble feet.
But it all started in that park with a young girl with raw talent, devoted parents determined to nurture it and the first of a series of tennis coaches and mentors who have never doubted her ability to reach the highest echelons of the sport.
Richard Whichello – Bjorn Borg’s practice partner during the five-times Wimbledon champion’s comeback in 1991 – is head coach at Beckenham Sports Club, Kent, where he teaches youngsters who all now want to emulate local girl Emma.
China has unashamedly claimed Britain’s new queen of tennis Emma Raducanu as ‘one of their own’ following her historic win in the US Open.
The hashtag ‘18-year-old Chinese teenager wins the US Open’ trended on social media platform Weibo, generating an astonishing 200 million reads within 24 hours of Raducanu’s victory in New York.
Chinese pride in her achievement was led by Xinhua which wrote: ‘This smiley half-Chinese girl once proudly said it’s the Chinese style of inner faith that gave her the confidence.’
It also noted that Raducanu had received training at a sports academy in Shenyang, North East China, where her mother was born.
A headline on a state-owned Chinese television declared: ‘Emma Raducanu: British-Chinese-Romanian tennis star smashes U.S. Open records.’
Taking to Weibo, one user gushed: ‘She said she visits China regularly, and that one of her idols is Li Na. I’m so moved,’ referencing a celebrated former Chinese tennis player.
Her mother Renee was originally known as Dong Mei Zhai and grew up in Shenyang, North East China, around an eight-hour driver east of Beijing. She then moved to Toronto, where she met her Romanian husband.
Her father, Ian, is the motor behind Emma’s tennis drive and he grew up in Europe’s most notorious communist system run by Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu until its collapse in 1989.
The family moved to Bromley when Emma was two and now live in a £345,000 home in a suburban cul-de-sac there.
Simon Chadwick, professor of Eurasian sport at the Lyon Business School, said: ‘For foreign brands wanting to make a mark in China – maybe someone like BMW or Audi – she is undoubtedly a boon. Young people will want to be like her – she is a hugely valuable brand’.
But in a warning for the delicate path she will need to walk, he said: ‘China is very complicated. Anyone thinking just because she can speak Mandarin she is going to make billions is not wholly understanding the Chinese market.’
Experts cite the case of former Arsenal footballer Mesut Özil, who tweeted his support for Uyghurs in 2019 and saw his endorsements in Asia vanish.
He was removed from video games and the two Chinese state broadcasters showing Premier League content refused to screen Arsenal matches and his profile was deleted online.
There has already been great interest in Emma in Beijing after her success at Wimbledon in July, when she put her success down to her parents Ian and Renee, from China, whose upbringing in communist countries drove her forward, not least because they have always been ‘tough’ on her.
Fans in China were also thrilled when she said that her focus and self-confidence was deep-rooted in her mother’s culture – and Renee’s insistence they speak Mandarin, which the Chinese proudly claim is most complicated of global languages to master.
Until the pandemic, Raducanu had travelled regularly to her mother’s home city of Shenyang in north-east China to visit relatives including her grandmother and train at the Shenyang Institute of Physical Education. There, the teenager not only found her court feet, but even played table tennis with professional players to improve her reactions.
Tian Fangzheng, head of the club, described her as an ‘outstanding’ player. ‘When all the other kids were tired, she was not,’ he said. ‘You can tell she has the movements of playing tennis when playing ping pong. She picked up the sport very quickly and you can tell she’s a sports person.’
Raducanu has credited her Chinese and Romanian roots with keeping her grounded, which will become important after she scooped £1.8million in prize money at the weekend. Speaking to Vogue’s October edition, Britain’s new queen of tennis said: ‘I think the confidence comes from just inner belief.
‘My mum comes from a Chinese background, they have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture.’
Following her Wimbledon breakthrough, she said: ‘My mom has always instilled a lot of the qualities, like discipline and respect for other people, into me, so I think having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations, so I’ve always tried to live up to that. I would say I take a big part of my inspiration from her. She always shows me by example what ‘hard work’ means.’
Social media users in China have been celebrating Raducanu’s heritage, with many on Weibo calling her a ‘Dongbei girl’ – a reference to her mother’s ancestral home. One user wrote: ‘She said she visits China regularly. I’m so moved.’
Until the pandemic, Emma Raducanu had travelled regularly to her mother’s home city of Shenyang in north-east China to visit relatives including her grandmother and train at the Shenyang Institute of Physical Education. There, the teenager (left) not only found her court feet, but even played table tennis with professional players to improve her reactions
While she may be the biggest tennis star in Britain at the moment, in China Emma was also known for her ping pong skills – the country’s national sport
Emma is already a Vogue star (pictured), and became a millionaire overnight after winning in New York
Emma’s mother Renee could be seen cheering and applauding her daughter in the crowd at Wimbledon
Ian Raducanu pictured with his daughter Emma Raducanu, who admits has been ‘tough’ on her but will be proud
Emma’s army! Tennis star’s Instagram following soars to 1.2 million as she gains over 500,000 new fans in less than 24 hours – after experts predicted she could become a ‘billion dollar brand’
Emma Raducanu has seen her Instagram following soar to 1.2 million amid her sensational US Open victory in New York yesterday, beating Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3.
The 18-year-old athlete from Bromley, who became the first British woman to win since Virginia Wade’s Wimbledon victory in 1977, saw her social media page explode last night as over 500,000 new fans flocked to her Instagram account to follow the youngster.
Emma’s incredible performances in New York and at the SW19 tournament have seen her go from 366th in the world rankings to the top 25, increased her Instagram following to a staggering 1.2 million, and secured her first Vogue photoshoot, which appears in next month’s issue.
It comes after popular culture and brand expert Nick predicted the teenager would become a ‘billion dollar brand’ and A-list sensation.
Chinese official media also celebrated her win and highlighted her roots. State-owned tabloid Global Times reported she was ‘very interested in Chinese culture,’ and that she visited Shenyang often to see her grandmother.
Footage was also shared of her playing table tennis, using China’s beloved national sport to improve her hand-eye co-ordination.
President Xi sees sport as at the heart of political and economic power – with the Winter Olympics being held in the country next year and plans to host and even win the football World Cup by 2050.
And Beijing’s interest in Emma is no coincidence, because Tennis has boomed in popularity in China in the past decade due to former world number two Li Na’s success on the world stage, whose victory at the 2011 French Open was watched by 116million television viewers in China alone.
The Women’s Tennis Association hosted nine events in China in 2019, up from two in 2008 – and by 2014, China had invested hundreds of millions of dollars to launch the Wuhan Open, a tennis tournament held in Li’s hometown.
And even in becoming the first qualifier in history to win a grand slam with her stunning 6-4, 6-3 victory over Leylah Fernandez saw her pocket an astonishing £1.8million on Saturday night, she was humble in a way that would make her Chinese family proud, saying she planned to treat herself to some £109 Apple Airpods.
She also said she was happy to have managed to impress her ‘tough’ and ‘hard to please’ parents Ian and Renee, who watched their only child’s match from the UK as they weren’t able to travel due to Covid restrictions.
‘I think that from a young age I’ve always sort of been brought up to have mental strength,’ she said.
‘My parents… were pretty tough on me when I was young, but I think now it’s helping on the biggest stages in the world.
‘It was really nice to talk to them after I won. They were just so happy and proud of me… [they’re] my toughest critics and very, very hard to please but, yeah, I got them with this one. They couldn’t resist.’ She added that she had increased her endurance and mental strength during the tournament and described her exit from Wimbledon with breathing issues as ‘more of a physical issue’.
She concluded: ‘It’s like almost natural selection, you know… if you don’t [adapt], you lose so it was really fun to experience. I’m just super happy with the week, of course.’
Emma has just got her first $1million pay-day, and millions more in sponsorships are now guaranteed to follow for the teenager who is already the most successful female British tennis player in decades.
Raducanu poses with the trophy after defeating Leylah Annie Fernandez during the Women’s Singles final match
Raducanu said it ‘meant everything’ to get a letter from the Queen congratulating the teenager on her astonishing US Open championship victory on Saturday and revealed she is planning on framing the note
She seems to have signed a deal to be a Tiffany ambassador. The company changed hands earlier this year and is now a part of the giant LVMH luxury goods empire. The first brief for the new management team is to grow the brand outside America – particularly in the Asian market.
Grammar schoolgirl Emma is ‘quite capable’ in Mandarin and couldn’t be a better fit for Tiffany. She’s in starry company – Beyonce and Jay-Z are also new ambassadors for the brand.
In her interview with ABC, Emma expressed delight over the letter she received from the Queen, which will also appeal to the Chinese love of history and authority.
From A Levels to A-Lister: New US Open champion Emma Raducanu, 18, takes her place among the stars for fashion’s biggest night out at New York’s Met Gala just 48 hours after sealing her place as Britain’s new sporting hero
Tennis sensation Emma Raducanu led the glamorous arrivals at the Met Gala last night as she wowed the crowd in a stunning black and white Chanel ensemble.
The 18-year-old British tennis star has quickly gone from taking her A Levels to brushing up against A-listers after she was launched to fame following a dramatic rise up the ranks in tennis.
She scored an invite to the prestigious fashion event hosted by Vogue’s Dame Anna Wintour after she won the US Open on Saturday and strutted the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art alongside some of the world’s biggest stars, including Jennifer Lopez, Megan Fox and Kendall Jenner.
Many fashionistas and A-list stars went all out with bold, beautiful and some truly bizarre looks as they reveled in the spotlight, including a balaclava-clad Kim Kardashian.
The theme for the evening was In America: A Lexicon of Fashion and the event featured a heavy-hitting contingent of celebrity co-chairs: actor Timothée Chalamet, musician Billie Eilish, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
It was no wonder Emma nailed it at fashion’s biggest night of the year after already being dubbed a style icon with her tennis looks.
She arrived at the New York party days after claiming £1.8million cheque for her defeat of fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez, wearing a gorgeous Chanel handkerchief skirt paired with a stunning cropped camisole and oversized shirt in a matching floral print which stole the show.
While walking up the iconic steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art she showed off the gorgeous pearl body jewellery the French design house gave her for the evening.
Tennis sensation Emma Raducanu, 18, led the glamorous arrivals at the Met Gala last night as she wowed the crowd in a stunning black and white Chanel ensemble
Many fashionistas and A-list stars went all out with bold, beautiful and some truly bizarre looks as they reveled in the spotlight, including actress Megan Fox, who wore a revealing scarlet encrusted gown
Emma posed for snaps alongside a host of A-listers, including Lily-Rose Depp, Whitney Peak, Margaret Qualley, Kristen Stewart (pictured l-r)
She arrived at the New York party, known as the Oscars of fashion, wearing a gorgeous Chanel handkerchief skirt paired with a stunning cropped camisole and oversized shirt which stole the show
Rihanna arrived with boyfriend ASAP Rocky, who wore a quilted number that he laid onto the carpet a look by ERL
Princess moment: Met Gala Co-chair Billie Eilish looked absolutely beautiful in a peach corset gown with Marilyn Monroe inspired tresses
Timeless: Hailey Bieber donned a sleek black strapless Saint Laurent gown with crystal detailing along the bustline (left) while Kaia Gerber wore a black faille gown with a cut-out bodice and ivy vine embroidered detail, revealing a hint of her cleavage (right)
British stars Sienna Miller and Emily Blunt were joined on the red carpet by European editor-at-large of American Vogue Hamish Bowles
Crimson: Emily Ratajkowski donned a Vera Wang lace red dress featuring nude panels and a statement voluminous neckline (left) while Karlie Kloss showed off her pins in a flowing gown with a lengthy train (right)
The next generation of stars walk the red carpet! Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon donned a fuscia pink two piece while Brooklyn Beckham and fiancee Nicola Peltz shared a PDA moment on the carpet
And while some opted for neutral colours at the event, others went all out in bright neons and bold designs (left, Ciara and right, Dan Levy)
Singer Lorde wore an all white two piece with beaded detailing for the occasion, pairing the look with an extravagant headpiece
A series of chains and pearls wound their way around Emma’s stomach, meeting in the middle in the designer’s statement CC logo encrusted with pearls and crystals.
The brunette beauty wore a pare of black patent leather ankle boots to complete the classic black and white look.
And she added a gorgeous pair of statement crystal earrings to match her body chain.
She joined stars including Jennifer Lopez at the event, who showcased her toned legs in a plunging brown embroidered gown with a faux fur shearling coat and a hat; she is in custom Ralph Lauren.
The 52-year-old singer/actress/dancer arrived back to the states after a trip to the Venice Film Festival with boyfriend Ben Affleck, who skipped the red carpet.
Meanwhile Kim Kardashian wore head to toe black in a gown and facemask by Balenciaga, a striking difference from her 2019 look.