Comment: Sad Wimbledon end for Emma Raducanu, but she should draw inspiration from Andy Murray’s journey
Becoming an overnight superstar was never going to be easy for Emma Raducanu.
The leap from playing junior tennis tournaments with a handful of spectators looking on to sharing the front pages of every British newspaper with England captain Harry Kane as he leads the nation’s Euro 2020 charge was a joyous novelty for the 18-year-old wildcard who was propelled in the spotlight at a rate few before her have experienced.
Yet maybe it was too much too soon.
Maybe the fourth-round exit at Wimbledon will give Raducanu a chance to take a step back to try and comprehend what has just happened to her.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2021
In a raucous atmosphere under the roof on Court One, Raducanu showed more than enough of her brilliant groundstroke hitting to confirm the hype around her is justified, but when the tide of the match turned against her and an injury appeared to knock her off track, everything fell apart quickly.
Suddenly, the smiling teenager who has impressed us all over the last week became a child once again, as she sobbed leaving the court with medics as she struggled to breath amid the panic that had overcome her.
To her credit, Ajla Tomljanovic fought like a lion to get to the position she was 6-4, 3-0 up against an opponent who was more than a match for her in a compelling first set, but the end of this match should remind all the headline writers that nothing comes easy in tennis.
We have seen enough from Raducanu in her first biggest tennis tournament to suggest she has the game to be a top ten player for years to come, but this was not the moment for her to become anything more than just a wonderful footnote to this year’s Championships.
“Maybe it’s not a shame this has happened right now when she is 18,” former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe told the BBC.
“I played this tournament at 18 and in a way I was happy I lost. I was able to understand what it would take to make it. Allow her to take some deep breaths and maybe get some wildcards. She’ll get her ranking up and there is no doubt this kid has lots of talent. Now let’s allow her to develop at her own pace.”
Former British No 1 Annabel Croft echoed McEnroe’s sentiments, as she expressed her sympathy for Raducanu after her tearful exit.
“We’ve seen so much from Emma Raducanu in the course of this tournament,” said Croft. “She’s got a complete technique, a beautiful service motion and a good second serve.
“She also has a strong head on her shoulders. She’s very joyful and brings it the court. It’s painful to see her go out this way, but this has been a great launch pad. There’s going to be a lot of interest in her now.”
On the evidence of her first appearance, Raducanu will be back at Wimbledon for years to come and she may well be playing on the second Saturday of the tournament sooner rather than later.
Yet that debate is for another day.
Like Andy Murray in his first appearance at Wimbledon, he wasn’t fit enough, mature enough or level headed enough to win, with his learning curve featuring many heartaches before his date with destiny arrived in 2013.
Raducanu should draw inspiration from Murray’s journey and who knows, she might yet end up at the same destination four or five years down her road.
Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
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