Could the success of Emma Raducanu bring in female players to the sport?
Emma Radacanu’s US Open final win against Leylah Annie Fernandez in September 2021 was a historic sporting moment for several reasons. The teenage tennis star became the first British women’s singles major title winner for 44 years. Radacanu also became the first-ever qualifier to win the tournament in US Open history following her tennis H2H against Fernandez.
The meteoric rise of Radacanu over the last year has captured the hearts of many sporting fans across the world. The 18-year-old entered Wimbledon 2021 ranked 338th in the world. She surpassed expectations to provide a glimpse of her talents. But, despite reaching the last 16, she had to withdraw due to injury.
She then entered the US Open as a wildcard and went all the way. As a result, Radacanu’s achievements could have lasting effects on a new generation of female tennis players.
A Female tennis role model
Radacanu’s exceptional tennis ability was well-recognised by those who knew her prior to her US Open success. The British star was a local tournament winner at the age of six and eight and those who have worked with her have paid testament to her steely determination and dedication to succeed.
This was evident in the US Open victory. Radacanu entered the tournament ranked 150th in the world and success was almost unimaginable. However, to succeed against the odds, and to get to the final without dropping a set emphasised Radacanu’s tennis ability and her positive mentality to succeed.
Tens of millions of tennis fans around the world witnessed the Radacanu vs Fernandez US Open final on Amazon Prime in September and this wide broadcast would have captured many young budding female tennis stars. Seeing a young start succeed on the biggest, most elite stage in a sport, all at the age of 18, is likely to inspire many players to take up the sport.
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls give up sports twice as much as boys of the same age do. However, with a young role model, such as Radacanu, there is hope that the playing field can be levelled regardless of gender.
Impressive off-court mentality
After withdrawing from her Wimbledon last 16 clash due to breathing difficulties, Radacanu took to social media later to explain how the occasion, ‘caught up with her’. The ability to admit how the mental aspects of the elite sport have an effect earned plaudits from other sports stars, including footballer Marcus Rashford.
Speaking openly and honestly about the impacts of mental health has become more common among elite sports stars in recent years. Fellow tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from Wimbledon last summer to extend her break from professional tennis and to spend time with her friends and family.
Radacanu’s actions before her US Open win show she can be a role model for the next generation of female tennis players. However, the major title win has only elevated her time in the spotlight and, with further success on the court, she has the potential to inspire millions of young girls with her personal and professional achievements.