TENNIS prodigy Emma Raducanu has smashed her way to global glory – yet insists she is still a normal teenager who gets told off by her parents “big time”.
And despite becoming an over-night sensation — and millionaire — when she won the US Open in September, she still uses public transport and hangs out with her old friends.
The teenager, who got A and A* grades in her A-levels in the summer, is now worth an estimated £4.5millionCredit: Getty
Emma came to the UK aged two with her parents Ian, pictured, and Renee when they moved from CanadaCredit: Ray Collins
Now, at just 19, she is the runaway favourite to be named BBC Sports Personality Of The Year next weekend with odds of 1/6.
Emma came to the UK aged two with her parents Ian and Renee when they moved from Canada. An only child, she was raised in Bromley, South East London, and she credits her family with keeping her grounded.
And while she wowed at New York celebrity favourite the Met Gala, and has featured in fashion bible Vogue, she said: “I’m still going about my business.
“I’m still taking the train and doing the same journeys.
“I feel like the exact same person and go about everything I used to do. I don’t see why I should change things. I’ve been a bit busy lately so I haven’t been able to hang out with my friends as much, but it’s just nice to have those conversations and go to the same places that you used to go.” And I have my parents — who were telling me off yesterday morning, big time.”
Asked what she did wrong, Emma said with a laugh: “I said I was tired! They both told me off.”
Now Britain’s top-ranked female tennis player, last year Emma was a virtual unknown smashing balls against her garage wall in lockdown.
On December 19, 2020 — the day that will this year see the Sports Personality Of the Year crowned — she won LTA British Tour Masters in front of just a handful of spectators.
The performance saw her selected by bosses at the All England Lawn Tennis Club to appear at the Wimbledon championships, where she stunned the sport by making it to the fourth round, becoming the youngest British woman ever to reach the final 16 in the modern era.
She ended up withdrawing from her match against Croatian-Australian player Ajla Tomljanovicćwith breathing problems, later admitting that she had been “overwhelmed”.
The first qualifier to win a Grand Slam, her success gained her superstar status and landed her lucrative endorsement dealsCredit: PA
Emma’s parents, Renne, pictured, and Ian, recently told Emma off because she said she was tiredCredit: AFP
But she came back stronger three months later, sensationally winning the US Open without dropping a single set and picking up one of the biggest titles in the sport and prize money of £1.8million. The first qualifier to win a Grand Slam, her success gained her superstar status and landed her lucrative endorsement deals with Nike, French luxury fashion house Dior and posh jeweller Tiffany.
The teenager, who got A and A* grades in her A-levels in the summer, is now worth an estimated £4.5million.
In an interview with tennis pundit and former player Andrew Castle, she said 2021 had been “quite a year” for her. Emma added: “Yeah, it’s pretty surreal. I remember my birthday last year and I think it was one of the lockdowns.
“I wasn’t playing. It’s pretty amazing how everything changed in one year.
“It just shows that if you keep plugging away at your own work and not looking around, and stay focused, then anything can happen.”
That “anything” will more than likely include her being crowned Sports Personality Of The Year.
The people she is up against include diver Tom Daley, 27, swimmer and Strictly contestant Adam Peaty, 26, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton, 36, and boxing champ Tyson Fury, 33. Because Emma will be training in the United Arab Emirates, she will not be at the ceremony. And while the bookies have her odds-on to win, she isn’t counting on it.
Emma is instead backing her pal, F1 legend Lewis, to pick up the accolade, and in doing so becoming only the second man to hold the title three times, after tennis champion Andy Murray.
Emma told how Lewis, who also took the title in 2014 and 2020, has acted as a mentor for her after she found overnight fame.
She said: “Am I preparing a speech? No, I mean, definitely not. I’m rooting for Lewis.
“He’s been such a great role model for me in terms of helping me out and through these next stages. He’s a really cool person.” Asked about Lewis’s advice, she went on: “He said, ‘Be patient, you’ve just got to ride the wave. It’s all good. Don’t worry’. Good reassurance.”
Emma last month played in front of a home crowd for the first time since her US Open win, defeating Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse in an exhibition match at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Now coached by Torben Beltz — who once guided Angelique Kerber, former world No1 and winner of three Grand Slam tournaments — Emma’s next competition will be another exhibition at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi on December 16.
She will then complete her off-season in the Middle East before travelling to Oz in January for the Australian Open.
After her Albert Hall win, she said: “My expectations are to keep improving. I want to look back at the end of the year and see that I made gains in different areas.
“I know it will take a lot of patience to get to where I want to be and smooth out that consistency. It’s all about building robustness physically.”
And it’s about not getting on the wrong side of her parents . . .
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