British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu has lost her first set 6-4 to Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic at Wimbledon but has won the hearts and minds of thousands of excited spectators at No1 Court as the teenage star battles for the second set in her much-anticipated clash.
Raducanu, who is ranked 338 in the world and is the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 since 1959, is continuing her fairy-tale run at the grand slam – and is the nation’s lost hope in the singles draw after tennis superstar Sir Andy Murray crashed out of the tournament.
She was born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two. Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance last month at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions.
Screens have been set up at Raducanu’s school – Newstead Wood School in Orpington – to allow staff and pupils to watch her take on Tomljanovic in the fourth round match. Staff and club members will also be watching next door at Bromley Tennis club, where Raducanu played regularly from the age of nine to 16, before moving on to train at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.
Her teachers described her as ‘focused, determined and hard-working’ on and off the court, with Newstead School headteacher Alan Blount saying she was ‘in the zone’ and ‘loving every minute’ of the tournament.
‘Emma has been with us since year seven when she was 11 years old and she’s always been tipped for great things,’ Mr Blount said ahead of the match. ‘Obviously you can’t look into the future and you don’t know if it is going to come good, but we knew she was heading for great things.
‘If everything was right she was going to be the next big thing and look, here she is.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those expressing support for Raducanu online and wishing her luck ahead of the game. He tweeted: ‘Congratulations @EmmaRaducanu for reaching the second week at @Wimbledon and for making Championship history.
‘Good luck in your match today. The country is behind you.’
Raducanu took to the practice courts with her coaches Matt James and Nigel Sears ahead of her showdown this evening. Mother-of-one, Michelle Derham, 29, who lives a few doors down from the Raducanus was preparing to watch her neighbour against Tomljanovic.
She told MailOnline: ‘It’s incredible to think that she’s going to be playing in Court One at Wimbledon in a last 16 game watched by millions around the world when just a few months ago she was training outside my window.
British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu at No1 Court at Wimbledon
Raducanu dejected during her fourth round match at Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu’s mother Renee Raducanu (second left) and Anne Keothavong (second right) react
Raducanu, who is ranked 338 in the world and is the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 since 1959, is continuing her fairy-tale run at the grand slam
Raducanu celebrates during her fourth round match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Raducanu received a huge welcome from excited Wimbledon spectators this evening as her much-anticipated clash against Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic on No1 Court begins
Even the rain could not dampen spirits at the grand slam as the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club closed the court roof so that Raducanu, who is the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 since 1959, could continue her fairy-tale run at the tournament tonight
Emma Raducanu during her fourth round match Wimbledon Tennis Championships
Rain at Wimbledon is dampening spirits at the grand slam this evening
Spectators react as rain stops play on centre court on day seven of Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu at a practice session on the Aorangi Practice Courts on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon
The downpour is delaying Raducanu’s match against Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic on No1 Court
Champ in the making: Emma competing in a junior competition in France, left, and on her way to victory at Wimbledon on Saturday. Even if she loses, Emma – who has been praised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sir Andy Murray – is tipped to earn millions in sponsorship deals. One expert said: ‘She’s very clean-cut, attractive, multicultural, successful and young’
Boris Johnson was among those expressing support for Raducanu online and wishing her luck ahead of the game
How Emma Raducanu became the Youngest British girl in the last 16 since Christine Truman in 1959
Emma Raducanu is the youngest British female to make it into the second week at Wimbledon for more than 60 years.
Christine Truman reached the fourth round in 1959 aged 18 years and five months – two months younger than Emma. Remarkably, two years earlier Truman made it to the semi-finals aged 16 in her debut in SW19 in 1957.
Truman’s success was all the more impressive given that since birth she was partially blind in her left eye – a fact her family had kept secret from competitors in her early days.
Asked whether her daughter’s sight had contributed to her disappointing performance at Wimbledon in 1962 when she was knocked out in the third round, her mother told a newspaper: ‘It is nonsense to suggest that Christine’s eyesight has affected her tennis in any way. It was exactly the same when she was on top of her form.’
In a career spanning more than two decades, Truman, an unpredictable player whose form could soar one week and crash the next, won titles in France and Italy and was later a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open. She had another successful Wimbledon run in 1965 when – unseeded and all but written off by observers – she made it to the semi-final. Continuing to play at domestic tournaments throughout her career, she was Martina Navratilova’s first opponent at Wimbledon in 1973.
She married former Wasps rugby player Gerry Janes, and the pair had four children, one of whom – Amanda Keen – went on to become a professional tennis player who twice played at Wimbledon and had a career-best ranking of number 207. Mrs Truman Janes retired from tennis in 1975 and became a commentator for BBC radio.
She was awarded an MBE in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday’s Honours list for her services to sport. She has also published several children’s books including her first, Dilly And Other Poems, about a loveable doll which finds itself in different situations, such as – unsurprisingly – learning to play tennis.
Even though she stopped playing tennis competitively many years ago, Mrs Truman Janes still takes to the court at her local clubs in Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, Suffolk. She told her local newspaper: ‘It exercises all the muscles and it is something you can keep doing into old age.’ Meanwhile, Britain’s men’s No 2 Cameron Norrie – the last British star in the men’s singles after Andy Murray crashed out of the tournament on Friday – lost his match against Roger Federer yesterday.
Norrie, 25, put up a valiant effort against the eight-time champion but was beaten in four sets. The player stopped during the match to give a memento of his official Wimbledon towel to a young spectator who had been hit by a tennis ball. It was the third consecutive Grand Slam event where Norrie had reached the last 32, losing to Rafael Nadal at both the Australian and French Opens prior to his defeat to Swiss veteran Federer yesterday.
‘She and her dad were knocking balls back and forth to each other. It’s lucky that she’s so good and managed to avoid hitting the cars in the street. I guess tennis courts may have been closed because of Covid -regulations so she had to improvise.
‘She was out there every day practicing with her dad Ian. They are a lovely family and I’m so proud and so thrilled that she is doing so well. I’m going to be cheering her on this afternoon that’s for sure and hope she can go even further.’
Retired David Moore, 74, added: ‘She’s fantastic and has worked so hard to be where she is. I’ve seen her playing tennis out in the cul-de-sac with her dad many times.
‘The whole street is proud of her. We’ve all got our fingers crossed that she can get through today.’
Saturday’s win means Raducanu is guaranteed a payday of at least £181,000 this week – over six times her previous accumulated career earnings of £28,762. Now the teenager, from Bromley, south-east London, is guaranteed £300,000 if she wins her last-16 match against Tomljanovic.
Even if she loses, Raducanu – who has been praised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and former world number one Sir Andy – is tipped to earn millions in sponsorship deals.
Brands are likely to be clambering over themselves to sign her up; with her charming post-match interview on court leaving her joking about how she never expected a second week at Wimbledon.
After her first round victory, she gained 30,000 followers on Instagram – and Saturday’s win took that to another level – she’s currently on 153,000 and rising fast.
The teenager told the adoring crowd on Saturday afternoon. ‘It’s funny because when I was packing to come into the bubble, my parents were like, ‘Aren’t you packing too many sets of match kit?’ So I think I am going to have to do some laundry tonight.’
One expert said: ‘She’s very clean-cut, attractive, multicultural, successful and young.’
Born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, Raducanu moved to Britain at the age of two and grew up in London. She first picked up a racquet aged five and played at Bromley Tennis Academy from the age of ten.
During lockdown, she could be seen knocking tennis balls back and forth to her dad in the quiet cul-de-sac where the family live.
On her Instagram page, the rising star references her global roots listing London, where she lives now, Toronto, where she was born and the two cities where her parents are from Bucharest in Romania and Shenyang in China.
Her dual heritage remains important to her and she’s spoken fondly of relatives across the globe, saying: ‘My grandma, Mamiya, still lives in central Bucharest. I go back a couple times a year, stay with her, see her. It’s really nice. I love the food, to be honest.
‘I mean, the food is unbelievable. And my grandma’s cooking is also something special. I do have ties to Bucharest.’
Weeks ago, the teenager, who’s a fan of Taiwanese TV shows, was sitting A-Levels in Economics and Maths at Newstead School in Orpington, Kent.
Raducanu has been described as a ‘model pupil’ by her teachers at the selective girls’ grammar school. She achieved three 9s, and four 8s in her GCSEs and is awaiting the results of her maths and economics A-levels.
Her PE teacher Sarah Eells, said it was ‘very emotional’ watching Raducanu ‘achieve her dream’ and that the teenager was a ‘role model and an inspiration’ to other pupils.
‘I’m so proud and it’s very emotional how we feel just seeing her achieve her dream and show her skill,’ she said. ‘She fully deserves it and her hard work is paying off. Her mindset is so strong and she is very focused and determined. I believe she has all the qualities of an elite sportswoman.
‘I 100 per cent think she is made for this and she will go all the way. The shots that she’s pulling off are just outstanding. How she’s finished them off and coped with the pressure is incredible.
‘I’m quite blown away with what she is achieving but it shows her character on court… but that’s just her as a person. No drama or ego, she’s just very hard-working and dedicated.
‘She’s an absolute role model and inspiration. The buzz that we’ve got that’s going on for the students, the staff and the past students is amazing.’
Raducanu has insisted that she is focused on her tennis career, and has juggled matches with schoolwork this year during the pandemic – choosing not to travel abroad for lower level tournaments.
Mr Blount said her passion for the sport had been allowed ‘to shine through’ and that her conduct was similar on and off the court. ‘She’s showing all of the traits we’ve seen in the last seven years on the tennis court that we’ve seen in the classroom,’ he said.
‘She’s conducting herself really well, she’s in the zone, she’s performing brilliantly and she’s got the mental mindset that she needs to go all the way. The biggest thing for us is that she’s loving every minute and that passion is shining through.’
She will take to Wimbledon’s Court One today as Britain’s newest sporting heroine. But the fuss over her history-making run at the championships seems unlikely to faze Emma Raducanu
Emma’s mother Renee could be seen cheering and applauding her daughter in the crowd during her match on Saturday
Recipe for success both on and off court: the teenager’s Instagram account has seen her amass 153,000 followers in a week
Raducanu has seen congratulation pour in from both Sir Andy Murray and her maths teacher: She said: ‘I have actually received a few emails from my school teachers. My math teacher emailed me today congratulating me’
The teenager recently told the Evening Standard newspaper she would choose getting to the next stage of the world-famous tennis tournament over getting A-star grades in her A-levels.
But Mr Blount said: ‘We’ve got every confidence that she can do both, this isn’t an either/or.’
He added that multiple screens had been set up at the school for the match on Monday afternoon and children were being allowed to watch Raducanu play in their classrooms.
‘It’s really nice to be part of that excitement and we’re all behind her,’ he said. ‘The sun is shining, the students are in really good spirits and it’s a really nice boost at the end of term.’
Her maths teacher Sarah Sword, 48, who emailed her after her victory against world number 45 Sorana Cirstea on Saturday, said: ‘She’s a really talented mathematician, she’s a really talented student.
‘She’s very active in class in terms of participating in the lessons, asking questions, answering questions – and she has a very sharp mind. She is going to do brilliantly in her exams. There’s no doubt in my mind. She has managed this amazing balance between her studies and pursuing her passion for tennis. She’s simply lovely.’
The rising star is coached by Sir Andy’s father-in-law Nigel Sears, who said she was ‘born to play tennis’, adding: ‘I knew she was exceptional the first time I saw her.’
Her opponent has been described in far less flattering terms. Tomljanovic, 28, was accused of being ‘the worst player on tour’ after an ugly on-court row during her third-round match against Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday.
The world number 75, who used to date tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios and is now in a relationship with Italian player Matteo Berrettini, accused her Latvian opponent of lying about being injured when she called for a medical timeout.
Raducanu celebrates during her third round match Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the weekend
The 18-year-old fairytale third-round victory over Sorana Cirstea, the world No 45, came just weeks after she finished her A-levels
Meet the Aussie Wimbledon contender taking on Britain’s Emma Raducanu: Glitzy jet-setter Ajla Tomljanovic dated ‘tennis bad boy’ Nick Kyrgios before moving on with 7th seed Italian Matteo Berrettini
Britain’s newest sporting heroine Emma Raducanu is up against surprise Australian contender Ajla Tomljanovic at Wimbledon today.
The 18-year-old’s fairy-tale run continues against 28-year-old Tomljanovic on the competition’s Manic Monday, as the pair battle it out in their last-16 match.
But while Raducanu – who has been praised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sir Andy Murray – became the youngest British woman to reach the fourth round of the singles at Wimbledon since 1959 on Saturday, her Croatian-born opponent was involved in a furious row.
Tomljanovic shocked the tennis world when she accused her losing competitor Jelena Ostapenko, 24, of faking an injury, lying and ‘disgraceful behaviour’ after telling the umpire she was injured and needed a medical timeout when down 4-0.
Yet it’s not only the on-court spat which has caught the attention of fans; boyfriend Matteo Berrettin, who is the seventh seed at Wimbledon, delighted admirers when eagerly asking his coach for updates on his 75th seed girlfriend during his own match.
Berrettini – who is on to the fourth round today following his own win on Saturday – and Tomljanovic have been dating since 2019 and often share their glamorous jet-setting life together on Instagram.
It’s not the first Wimbledon star that Tomljanovic has been involved with after she spent two years with ‘tennis’ bad boy’ Australian Nick Kyrgios, until they broke up in 2017, reportedly because of his partying ways.
Britain’s newest sporting heroine Emma Raducanu is up against surprise Australian contender Ajla Tomljanovic (pictured) at Wimbledon today
The 18-year-old’s fairy-tale run continues against 28-year-old Miss Tomljanovic (pictured with her partner Matteo Berrettini) on the competition’s Manic Monday, as the pair battle it out in their last-16 match
Miss Tomljanovic spent two years with ‘tennis’ bad boy’ Australian Nick Kyrgios (pictured together), until they broke up in 2017, reportedly because of his partying ways
Despite both winning their matches on Saturday, Rome-born Berretini, 25, admitted the stress of watching his partner play was too much at times.
‘I feel 10 times more stressed when I’m watching her match than when I’m actually playing my match,’ he said while standing beside Tomljanovic after his third round straight sets win over Aljaz Bedene.
‘I would rather have her playing at the same time. When she’s playing, I’m the most stressed guy on the planet. I would rather play than watch her match.’
Like her boyfriend, Tomljanovic confessed she can’t handle watching her partner play either – and prefers to either play her own match simultaneously, or watch it unfold on TV.
‘It takes away from the stress when you’re watching from the locker room,’ she added. ‘When he starts, if I just finish and he’s in the third set, I won’t go there, maybe for superstition, unless he’s down to change it up.’
Boyfriend Matteo Berrettini, who is the seventh seed at Wimbledon, delighted admirers when eagerly asking his coach for updates on his 75th seed girlfriend (pictured) during his own match
Mr Berrettini, who is on to the fourth round today following his own win on Saturday, and Miss Tomljanovic (above) have been dating since 2019 and often share their glamorous jet-setting life together on Instagram
Tomljanovic previously dated Canberra-born Kyrgios, 26, for two years until his partying reportedly proved too much for her when he was pictured with two girls outside a London nightclub in 2017.
The women later insisted they had just been innocently drinking together with the now reformed tennis bad boy – but it is thought to have still meant the end of the relationship.
Tomljanovic deleted all pictures of the two together from social media before meeting her handsome Italian two years later.
Meanwhile, her Wimbledon experience hasn’t been totally smooth sailing for the tennis player after a row erupted in her last match.
Ostapenko was losing 4-0 to Tomljanovic in the second set when she told the umpire she was injured and needed a medical timeout.
Despite both winning their matches on Saturday, Rome-born Mr Berretini, 25, admitted the stress of watching his partner (pictured together) play was too much at times
Like her boyfriend, Miss Tomljanovic (pictured with her partner) confessed she can’t handle watching her partner play either – and prefers to either play her own match simultaneously, or watch it unfold on TV
But furious Tomljanovic raged to the umpire: ‘You know she’s lying, right? We all know. Are you taking into any consideration that she looked fine for an hour and 30 and now there’s an acute injury?’
The Latvian was assessed by the physiotherapist and left the court to receive treatment. She eventually returned and Tomljanovic won 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
But the dispute continued as the pair went to shake hands, with an offended Ostapenko saying: ‘Your behaviour is terrible. You have zero respect.’
Her opponent replied: ‘You’re the one to talk,’ before Ostapenko snapped back: ‘What? You’re the worst player on tour.’
The bitter falling-out continued in the press conferences as both outraged players traded insults.
Miss Tomljanovic previously dated Canberra-born Mr Kyrgios (pictured together), 26, for two years until his partying reportedly proved too much for her when he was pictured with two girls outside a London nightclub in 2017
‘First of all, she cannot say anything because she knows zero about my injury,’ said the 24-year-old, who won the 2017 French Open. ‘And second, it was very disrespectful from her.
‘I had a problem with my abdominal in the second set. I should have called physio earlier, but I was just trying to forget the pain and focus on the game.
‘I think my level today was not good after the first set, because if I played at least 50 per cent I would have beaten her.’
But Tomljanovic insisted: ‘I have been in situations where players use that medical timeout to put their opponent off, usually when they are losing badly.
‘She can say she was injured. I don’t think she was. There was nothing wrong with her the whole match, but then why on 4-0 she calls it? She just wanted to get me off my game.
While Miss Raducanu – who has been praised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sir Andy Murray – became the youngest British woman to reach the fourth round of the singles at Wimbledon since 1959 on Saturday, her Croatian-born opponent (pictured) was involved in a furious row
‘Usually if you are dealing with an injury, you say, ‘Hey, can you call the physio on the next changeover?’ You don’t just go and sit down when your opponent is about to serve to go up 5-0.
‘There was nothing wrong with her. I know when someone is injured and when they’re not. Then to top it all off, for her to call me disrespectful at the end of the match — it’s laughable.
‘I think it’s disgraceful behaviour from a Slam champion, because kids look at her and, what, they see that?’
Miss Tomljanovic shocked the tennis world when she accused her losing competitor Jelena Ostapenko (pictured), 24, of faking an injury, lying and ‘disgraceful behaviour’ after telling the umpire she was injured and needed a medical timeout when down 4-0
Potential legal ramifications if players are denied medical treatment has hampered attempts to address the issue of players sometimes abusing the medical timeouts.
Tomljanovic added: ‘There definitely should be a rule where we prevent that from happening, because it happens way too much in the women’s game.But I guess you cannot deny medical help to a player.
‘The fact that she did it at 4-0 when I was about to serve, that’s disrespectful. It’s not what you do, especially at Wimbledon. It’s the pinnacle of sport. I’m just tired of seeing it happen. We can do better than that.’
This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk