Justine Henin pleads for patience with Emma Raducanu and highlights ‘one of the greatest dangers for a player’s career’

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Delight for Emma Raducanu as she wins US Open

Former world No 1 Justine Henin says it is important to give US Open champion Emma Raducanu time and space to continue her development.

The 18-year-old Raducanu stunned the sporting world in September when she became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam trophy, winning 10 matches without dropping a set en route to being crowned US Open winner.

Raducanu has surged into the top 20 of the WTA Rankings after winning two matches at the Transylvania Open, but she has also suffered early exits from the BNP Paribas Open and the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.

This week England Rugby Union coach Eddie Jones also raised questions about her off-court commitments as he believes she has been “distracted”.

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Seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin was impressed by Raducanu’s “audacity and attitude” at Flushing Meadows, but also feels the teenager should be given some breathing space.

“Everything has gone very, very fast here in the span of a few weeks, between Wimbledon and the US Open,” she told Eurosport.

“There’s going to be a lot of digesting to do afterwards. Of course she’s in the spotlight now, and that’s something she’s going to have to deal with. When you win a Grand Slam, especially when you come out of nowhere surprising everyone, it raises a lot of interrogations.

“Raducanu, she lit up the court with her tennis, with her audacity, with her attitude, and I was really impressed by her freshness.

“I loved this women’s US Open and now we’ll see what she’ll be able to offer. Especially in the weeks and months to come. She is very young.

“We’ll have to give this player time because she’s going to have a lot to deal with, especially her image. Today, I would like to say, it is potentially one of the greatest dangers for a player’s career.”

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Henin went further to explain the importance of managing your image and admitted that she “scared” for the younger players who are all new to this.

The Belgian added: “Generally speaking, we are in a society where you have to manage your image more and more. Even if I personally try to have a slightly detached view of this, I also had to play the game during my career. But it was a totally different era.

“Today, the image in our lives is becoming more and more important. And so, it is true that in the end, managing this image is a bit of an obstacle on sporting performance because it takes a lot of energy, because there are the earnings of the sponsors, because you obviously have to play the game of the press and that is quite normal.

“But in the end, if the main objective is to remain successful in sport, how do you balance and manage that?

“It’s a challenge today, I think that all the players, some of them now have a lot of experience. There are young players who will have to discover this and we keep repeating that the importance of the entourage is determining. But of course, there are also parts of the entourage that are there to push certain things, and so all this has to be measured.

“It’s a learning process, but it’s true that it sometimes scares me a little bit for the young players who are arriving on the circuit today and who are achieving such rapid results. It’s clear that it’s not going to be easy for her to manage in the next few weeks and months.”

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