‘Great person’ Emma Raducanu backed by Billie Jean King for not rushing comeback
Tennis icon Billie Jean King believes Emma Raducanu has made the right decision by not rushing her return to tennis and stressed the priority for the Brit is to be healthy.
The legendary American described Raducanu as a “great person” and “interesting human being” and said she is “interested in her next chapter.”
Raducanu has missed most of the 2023 season due to injury and underwent surgery on both her wrists and her ankle in May. She has played just 10 matches across five tournaments so far this year and has a 5-5 record.
The 20-year-old sustained an ankle injury which forced her to retire during her second round match in Auckland in January in her first event of the year. She then lost in the second round of the Australian Open to Coco Gauff, before next competing in Indian Wells almost two months later.
There, Raducanu achieved her best result of the season by winning three matches to reach the last 16, where she was beaten by Iga Swiatek. The 2021 US Open winner then lost in the opening round in Miami to Bianca Andreescu, before being beaten by Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart in April in her most recent match.
It has been confirmed that Raducanu is planning to make her comeback at the Macau Tennis Masters exhibition event in the opening week of December. The tournament is hosted by IMG, who manage Raducanu’s lucrative commercial contracts, with star names confirmed to be on the entry list alongside the Brit.
In an interview with Sky Sports, King discussed Raducanu’s return and expressed her support for the patient approach the 20-year-old has taken.
“We need Raducanu to be healthy, number one. She’s a great person. She’s interested in the world around her, she can speak more than one language – she can speak Chinese because her mother’s Chinese,” said the 79-year-old.
“She’s somebody who I think is interesting as a human being. I’m interested in her next chapter and I want her to be really healthy so she can play tennis, because I know she loves to play.
“We’ll see how that goes. You’ve got to be healthy. If you’re not, you shouldn’t play, so I think they’ve done the right thing this year.”
The 12-time Grand Slam singles champion also looked ahead to the upcoming Finals stage of the Billie Jean King Cup – the women’s team competition named after her – which will be held in Seville in November.
“It’s the World Cup. Ilana [Kloss] and I were in Australia watching the soccer [Women’s World Cup] and it was so exciting,” continued King.
“This is our 60th anniversary of originally the Federation Cup and now the Billie Jean King Cup, which we’ll be celebrating. We want the next 60 to be better than ever.
“The Swiss won last year. They were amazing to watch. They’re the defending champions, so I want to see how they’re sizing up. Belinda Bencic was their leader, she’s won a gold at the Olympics. The USA and the Czech Republic are the top two winners and Spain were always tough.
“When I was captain of the US team, Spain were always beating us. Conchita Martinez, who is now our tournament director – she has been fantastic this whole year – and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, they beat us all the time.
“And then there’s so many other great countries. You never know who is going to win, because it’s a team event. It’s not quite the same as playing in a tournament, where I think you know, more than often, who’s going to win. This gets dodgy.”
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