Eddie Jones criticised for ‘uninformed, irresponsible, sexist’ comments about Emma Raducanu

US Open women's champion Emma Raducanu celebrates

Emma Raducanu has bizarrely been used as an example of being “distracted” after achieving success early in a sporting career with England Rugby Union coach Eddie Jones urging young star Marcus Smith not to follow in her footsteps.

The 18-year-old Raducanu became an overnight sensation when she won the US Open as a qualifier in September and her on-court triumph has naturally led to off-court success as she has become one of the hottest properties in sport.

Raducanu enjoyed trips to the Met Gala and the premiere of the new Bond film on the back of her fairytale title while she has also signed several new sponsorship deals and appeared in the Sports Direct 2021 Christmas ad.

‘That was a non-negotiable for me,’ says Emma Raducanu as she vows not to be distracted by off-court events

Back on court, Raducanu – who won a major before winning a regular match on the WTA Tour – won her first two matches on the WTA, while she also lost two matches.

Jones, who is eager to keep Smith grounded, says Raducanu – whom he refers to as the “young girl who won the US Open” – “hasn’t done so well afterwards”, although the teenager has only played four matches since the New York tournament.

“The big thing for good young players is distractions,” the Australian said. “The distractions could be the exposure they get in the media, the praise they get, the criticism they get. There can be groups of agents who see this guy as the next big thing.

“There’s a reason why the young girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards. What have you seen her on – the front page of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar or whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes.

“All that is a distraction around her. It might not be to that degree with Marcus, but potentially it could be. He is grounded, but they all start out grounded. No one starts with their feet off the ground … but there are a flood of distractions which can come in.

“So the guidance we can give him when he’s with us, the guidance that he gets from Harlequins and the guidance he gets from his parents – who I know, fortunately, are very good people – will be important so he can keep his feet on the ground and keep impressing as a rugby player.”

However, tennis commentator David Laws has hit back at Jones as he labelled the comments “uninformed, irresponsible, sexist nonsense”.

“The comments by Eddie Jones about Emma Raducanu are uninformed, irresponsible, sexist nonsense,” he wrote. “Young woman who has barely played professional tennis wins US Open, and he cites her commercial appearances as evidence for her ‘not doing so well’ (won 2, lost 2) since.”