Emma Raducanu backed to win more Slams, but warned about ‘toxic’ social media and endorsement obligations
Monica Puig knows a thing or two about surprising the tennis world by winning a big event so she can “sympathise” with Emma Raducanu and the pressure that the 2021 US Open champion is facing on and off the court.
Back in 2016, the unheralded Puig beat a string of high-profile players – including Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber – to become Puerto Rico’s first gold medallist at the Olympics as she won the singles at the Rio Games.
She struggled with injury and form after that and eventually retired last year.
Raducanu has had a similar career path as she caused a major shock at the US Open two years ago when she came through qualifying to win her maiden Grand Slam at the age of 19.
The British youngster has struggled with form and injuries since then and has slumped to outside the top 70 in the WTA Rankings, but she still has a long career ahead of her, according to Puig.
“I saw her many times courtside during the US Open when she did when that title and she is a very talented player,” the Puerto Rican told Sky Sports.
“Physically, she’s still very young. I’m not going to say she’s already a very established player with a lot of experience. She won that US Open title having not played many WTA events and she hasn’t had a full calendar.
“She still needs time to develop and time to find out who she is as a tennis player, who she is as a person and I can sympathise with her because when I won the Olympics it came out of nowhere.
“I didn’t have as much media attention as she does and I can only imagine coming from the UK where something like that is so big. It just exploded.”
Asked if she can win another major, the Puig had no hesitation with her answer.
“Absolutely! She’s still young. It’s a matter of time. We’re always seeing generational changes with so players like myself and Serena Williams having now stepped away. The new generation that’s going to come and carry the torch for the future generation,” she said.
“Yes, she is going to be in that circle of names that are going to be a force to be reckoned with. She just needs to settle, find her ground and take the pressure and expectation off because she already did something that not many people can do.
“Remember the reason why you started playing tennis in the first place. It’s because of the love of the sport.”
Raducanu became a household name in British sporting circles after her US Open success and naturally several major endorsement deals followed as she signed deals with the likes of Porsche, Vodafone, British Airways, Evian and Dior.
Naturally she has boosted her brand with the big companies by being active social media, but she has been on the receiving end of criticism in recent months due to her poor form.
Puig has some advice.
“Don’t focus on social media because we all know that social media is a great tool to boost your brand but it can be toxic especially for a person like Raducanu who has so many people following her and so many people who want to see her succeed and also a lot of people who don’t,” the former world No 27 said.
“You’re not going to have everybody who loves you. You’re going to have those who are not going to like you.
“She has a great future ahead of her if she is able to settle herself but once she does and she organises herself in the way that works for her, she can end up making great strides and doing some really great things. Now it’s just about that consistency day in, day out and believing that she can do it again.”
But that doesn’t mean Raducanu should not be using social media, but she ultimately needs to win on court to get off-court contracts.
Puig continued: “I’m not saying she needs to leave social media alone altogether because part of being a tennis player is having to deal with all these endorsements that have come her way and she deserves that because she won a Grand Slam title.
“Those endorsement deals come with obligations and if you don’t meet those obligations the brand is not getting what they need out of you. The brand does need you to perform on court so you’re exposed, you’re out there, you’re promoting their things.
“You can make more money off the court than on it, but on the court it’s important to focus and dedicate all your time to your craft because that’s what got you there. At the end of the day, wins equal dollar signs and new contracts.
“That’s what I ended up seeing in my own career, so I’m speaking more from experience. It’s a fine balance because I’m not saying don’t do it altogether because honestly, it’s impossible at this point. She needs to do these obligations contractually but focus on the tennis and the work and then do that.
“It’s about putting your life in order, having a schedule, sticking to that schedule and then finding time for other things.”
READ MORE: Could Emma Raducanu lose some of her lucrative sponsors?
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