WATCH: Emma Raducanu back on court but her return to action may still take time

Emma Raducanu recovering from injury

Emma Raducanu has stepped up her recovery from injury by returning to the courts at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in London – but she also gave a big hint that she will not be playing in tournaments any time soon.

The 2021 US Open champion has seen her season ruined by injury, with double wrist and ankle surgery in May leading many observers to conclude she may not play again this year.

Raducanu, 20, missed her home Grand Slam at Wimbledon last month as she recovered from her treatment, but she has been hitting balls again for the first time.

Her practice partner at the LTA base was 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, yet any suggestion that this appearance on court is evidence that Raducanu is close to a return to competitive action seems to be wide of the mark.

Raducanu appeared to be moving freely on her feet as she struck balls over the net, but she was only using a soft red ball generally used by junior players for her hit.

This is certain to be an attempt to ensure she didn’t damage her wrists, as she makes a cautious step forward in her recovery plan.

Raducanu has been a regular at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in recent months, using the training base as a gym and working with the expert staff who are helping to get her back to her best.

Wrist injuries are notoriously challenging to recover from, with former British No 1 Laura Robson suggesting she tried everything to overcome her own issues before confirming her retirement last year.

“I went through every possibility of rehab and of surgery,” Robson told BBC Sport.

“I had another hip surgery and probably did the best rehab block of my life – I went to all the best specialists and had some incredible people that I was working with just to get me back on court – and then the second time I hit, I just knew.

“It feels weird to say out loud, but I’m done, I’m retired.

“I’ve sort of known that for a while because of what I was told by the doctors last year, but I think it just took me so long to say it to myself, which is why it took me so long to say it officially.

“(Acceptance) took a long, long time because it’s the difficulty of having it taken away from you rather than deciding yourself, as I would absolutely love to be out there still.

“But ultimately what’s happened has happened, and I think overall I’m a much nicer person from going through all of that.”

Robson also suggested Raducanu’s problems are not as severe as she was forced to endure.

“People are very quick to criticise Emma, but she will be fine,” added Robson. “She has a great attitude, works hard and we all know she has the talent to succeed. O’m not worried about Emma at all.”

These initial steps back to action will not come quickly enough for Raducanu to make a bid to play at the US Open later this month, but it does suggest she could play in tournament action again this year.

Her current ranking has fallen to No 133, with that slide certain to continue while she is off the court.

Raducanu will still have a chance to return to the game at the highest level, as she will have a protected WTA ranking due to her injury and will also have the chance to apply for wild cards as a former Grand Slam champion.

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