Former Wimbledon champion on Emma Raducanu and a big problem for women’s tennis

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu takes a break
Emma Raducanu during a match

The biggest stars in women’s tennis are serving up some high-quality action heading into the US Open, but former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli suggests more could be done to promote the stars of the game.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek and her nearest rival Aryna Sabalenka are enjoying a fierce rivalry at the top of the game, with the likes of Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Elena Rybakin and Ons Jabuer regular contenders in the final stages of the biggest events.

Yet the 2013 Wimbledon champion has told Tennis365 that the leading WTA Tour stars need to raise their profiles with those outside of the tennis bubble.

“I almost feel if you go into the street and say the names Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, they would be more known than some of the top ten current players,” Bartoli told us in her role as a Sky Sports analyst.

“It’s due to the fact that those past champions were there all the time and people could recognise the name going deep in every Grand Slam and you get familiar with the names.

“The WTA is suffering with new names coming in, which is great for stories like Emma Raducanu coming in from qualifying and winning the US Open. But then they disappear and another one is coming and you might not be able to follow that all the time.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if the girls who are now in the top ten are able to really establish themselves and to come out every single year and perform with consistency.

“That said, if Naomi Osaka is coming back, that name is really famous and she can get a lot of fans coming in and watching, as well as Angelique Kerber and [Caroline] Wozniacki.

“For the new generation, it is about building your profile by having consistent results. That’s what gives you the platform from the publicists and the press, but you need to have your results and that is the main criteria for someone to be famous.”

Raducanu’s 2021 US Open win put women’s tennis at the forefront of the sporting world, but the British star has failed to back up that success due to a combination of injuries and a lack of form.

She is now on the comeback trail after wrist operations earlier this year and Bartoli is hoping Raducanu can rise to the top once again.

“It’s one thing to do it one time, which is already very difficult, but it is another thing to do it year after year after year,” she added.

“I was in the top ten for six consecutive years in a row, so people started to know my name. You go from one tournament to another and this is how people follow you.

“If one year you are top ten and the second year you are 100 and the third year you are out of the top 100, then people forget about you.

“It’s all about consistency and once you stop improving, that’s when you can go backwards. It’s all about improving some part of your game, your fitness and you need to look to work more.

“That can be a challenge when you have already achieved so much so young as it is difficult to get yourself going on the practice court.

“I’m not blaming anyone, but if you want to build your profile and to be known by the public, you have to repeat your performance.

“For Emma, it’s all about getting herself healthy again so she can do a full year. Since the US Open, she has had stop and go, stop and go. She plays one tournament and then she is on the sidelines for two months.

“If she gets her body right and has one full year, I feel she can go back to where she was when she was at the top of her game.”

The US Open returns exclusively to Sky Sports and NOW with access to all court feeds from 28 August.

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