Exclusive – Jo Durie on what happens next for US Open champion Emma Raducanu after breakthrough year

Sealed with a kiss. Emma Raducanu with the US Open trophy

Former British No 1 Jo Durie believes Emma Raducanu’s sensational success in 2021 will give youngsters who have played her in recent years inspiration to follow in her footsteps.

Speaking to Tennis365 at the UK Pro League Finals Weeks, the former world No 5 suggested Raducanu’s emergence as a world star after her remarkable US Open win in September could be a catalyst for more British stars to come through the ranks.

Raducanu will end the year in the top 20 of the WTA Rankings, joining Virginia Wade, Sue Barker, Johanna Konta and Durie as the only British women in the history of the game to crack that elite level in the rankings.

After winning the UK Pro League tournament last year, Durie is convinced the players she played en route to that success will have been given a glimpse of what might be possible in their careers.

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“Emma Raducanu won the UK Pro League last year and there are some players who played her in this country not so long ago and beat her,” began Durie, in an exclusive interview with Tennis365 at the UK Pro League Finals Week.

“Then a few months later, they see her winning a Grand Slam and they will think why can’t I do something like that. It has given them extra motivation and confidence.

“What Emma achieved this year was totally amazing. We are all still talking about it. I have spoken to so many people who never really watched tennis and it just caught their imagination.

“It really has had an impact on a lot of people. She is so engaging as a character, easy to watch as she is such a great player and it really has inspired a lot of people and given our game a massive boost.

“What I saw in Emma in recent years is someone who I knew was going to be very good, but to win a Grand Slam like that… no I didn’t see that happening.

“This was someone who didn’t play much at the start of this year, had not even played a match on the WTA Tour and then she played in the manner she did at Wimbledon before we all saw what happened at the US Open.

“That was not on anyone’s radar, but we can all see the talent there. She works hard, is eager to learn, has a great temperament, so let’s celebrate her success. It’s fantastic for Emma and everyone involved in British tennis.”

Durie was at the UK Pro League event working with rising star Eliz Maloney and she hopes the teenager she is helping to mould will now see a path to the top after Raducanu’s success.

The UK Pro League has become a vital part of the schedule for British players who can earn money and play competitive matches on home soil and Durie is a big supporter of the competition.

“For a player like Eliz Maloney, the UK Pro League has given her a wonderful platform to play matches and when she was able to travel again, the games she had under her belt really helped her,” added Durie, at a tournament that is been screened live on FreeSports.

“The LTA are supporting this and that is the right thing to do. We all need to pull together in tennis for the good of the game and there are too many different factions in tennis. The last thing we need is any more.

“Given what has happened over the last 18 months, the UK Pro League has been a life saver as it has allowed our players to play matches and earn money when travel was so difficult. You can only practice so much and it has been wonderful to have this event spread over the course of the year.”