Emma Raducanu handed unexpected Wimbledon boost – Who is her new opponent?

Shahida Jacobs
Emma Raducanu in action
Emma Raducanu on the practice court

Emma Raducanu will no longer face a seeded player in her first-round match at Wimbledon 2024 after her initial opponent withdrew due to illness.

Former US Open winner Raducanu was initially handed a difficult opening-round encounter at the All England Club as she drew 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova on Friday.

The Russian has a formidable record on grass as she won back-to-back titles at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2022 and 2023.

However, the Wimbledon referee’s office confirmed just hours before the match that Alexandrova would not take to the court later in the day as she was unwell.

Raducanu will now face lucky loser Renata Zarazua on Centre Court after the Mexican was bumped up into the main draw.

Wimbledon women’s singles draw: 5 takeaways – ft. Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Emma Raducanu

Iga Swiatek vs Aryna Sabalenka blockbuster final as Elena Rybakina struggles – our Wimbledon women’s singles predictions

‘Unbelievably complete’ Emma Raducanu backed to be ‘a huge threat at Wimbledon to anyone’

Ahead of her match against Alexandrova, Raducanu declared herself the underdog.

“If I get through my first round, I’d be over the moon,” she said. “I think it’s a tough match. She’s seeded really well. It’s obviously going to be hard. I think that she’s got great weapons. On this surface, it only amplifies big weapons.

“I’m expecting a really difficult match. I think it’s a match where I’m actually the complete underdog because she’s a lot older, a lot more experienced, ranked a lot higher.

“I feel like it’s just a great opportunity to try to get a good scalp, try to enjoy playing how I have been in the last few weeks, and just get back into it.”

Who Is Renata Zarazua

Raducanu will no doubt feel a little happier with the draw as Zarazua is ranked No 98 while the British player sits at No 135. The Mexican has a career-high No 95 compared to Raducanu’s 10.

It will be the pair’s first-ever meeting and the 26-year-old Zarazua has a win-loss record of 18-18 so far in 2024 and Raducanu is on 13-9 with her best performance a run to the semi-final of the Nottingham Open.

Raducanu’s biggest moment in tennis came in 2021 when she won the US Open as a qualifier while the Mexican is yet to win a singles title.

This will be Zarazua’s maiden appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon as she failed to make it past qualifying on several occasions. Raducanu, meanwhile, reached the fourth round on her debut in 2021 and the second round the following year before missing the 2023 edition due to injury.