Emma Raducanu makes big scheduling decision after initial reservations

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu will make only her second appearance for Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup next month after being called-up for the away tie against France.

Raducanu did not appear to be expecting to get a call-up to Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup team when she was asked about the prospect of playing for her country at a press conference in Australia in January, but it has now been confirmed that she will be part of Anne Keothavong’s team.

The 21-year-old former US Open champion will compete in the event for the first time in two years, with British No 1 Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart and Heather Watson making up the quartet.

Captain Keothavong told the LTA website: “I’m delighted to be travelling with a full-strength team off the back of some terrific results recently.

“The French side will present a significant challenge as always, but we all know how representing GB inspires us and each year we are getting stronger and better as a team.”

The qualifying round takes place in Le Portel, France, on April 12-13, on indoor clay.

Great Britain missed out on the finals last year after losing to France in Coventry and the addition of Raducanu to their ranks will add significant quality to Keothavong’s options.

It could also boost Raducanu’s hopes of playing in the Paris Olympics this summer, as she is looking for a big rankings climb to give herself a chance to compete in the Games for the first time.

Raducanu is currently only the British No 7 and there will be players ahead of her in the British list who could be picked to play at the Olympics.

However, Raducanu could request one of the special exception spots in the tournament that will be reserved for players who have won Grand Slam titles and have had success at the Olympic Games.

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu makes her point as screaming Aryna Sabalenka fumes over warning

According to Sky Sports Tennis commentator Jonathan Overend, Raducanu is playing at a level that suggests she could start a rapid rise up the WTA rankings if she stays fit and focused.

“One match she did play right at the start of her comeback against former world No 3 Elina Svitolina in Auckland, New Zealand and that was a match that Emma played, for two sets, she disappeared a bit in the third set, but for two hours and two sets she was right there with a top, top player,” said Overend.

“First set against [Ons] Jabeur, who’s a top 10 player, in Abu Dhabi, again, she competed hard.

“This is a career in reverse because she’s won a Grand Slam title in her teens and done something that virtually no other player will be able to do.

“She’s already done it, so now she’s going to get used to working her way back up the rankings and playing tournaments that are not quite as high-profile as this one but when those opportunities do come she has to believe that she can play at that level because she’s demonstrated it in her career.”

Raducanu is one of several big names set to compete in the women’s World Cup of Tennis next month, with world No 1 Iga Swiatek set to take to the court for Poland.

Jessica Pegula, Madison Keys and the in-form Emma Navarro will all be keen to shine for a USA team that will be without US Open champion Coco Gauff.

Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka returns to the competition for the first time since becoming a mother, with the Japanese star last playing in the competition for the first time since February 2020.

There was also an interesting pick by Romania, who have wasted no time in recalling Simona Halep to their team just a few days after her doping ban was reduced on appeal.

Like Raducanu and Osaka, Halep may be struggling to get into the Olympics on her WTA ranking, but she could also look for an exception to play in Paris as a former Grand Slam champion.