Emma Raducanu’s fairy-tale year on tour – 12 months on from her WTA debut
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96 days – the time between Emma Raducanu’s debut WTA match at the Nottingham Open and lifting the US Open women’s singles title.
It’s fair to say that the 19-year-old British star has been on an unbelievable journey since taking her first steps onto the Centre Court at Nottingham to compete against her Billie Jean King Cup teammate, Harriet Dart.
A year on from her first tour match we look back at her incredible first year as a pro.
Finding her feet on the grass
We start back in June 2021 in Nottingham, where the highly promising young talent, Raducanu, received a wild card into the main draw at the Nottingham Open to play in her first WTA event.
Drawing against fellow Brit, Dart in the opening round, the young star battled hard in front of the British fans before bowing out 6-3, 6-4. A tough loss to take, but a promising display from the Brit gave fans a glimpse of what she was capable of.
She stayed in Nottingham to compete in the LTA’s Nottingham Trophy the week after, where she fought her way past Storm Sanders and Timea Babos. Her run took her to the quarter-finals before eventually losing to Tsvetana Pironkova – next stop, Wimbledon.
A star in the making
A Wimbledon wild card gave Raducanu the chance to show her talent on the biggest stage tennis has to offer – and it was there that she announced herself on the world stage.
She caught the eye of many of the British public with a straight sets win over Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round, and followed it up with an incredibly impressive 6-2, 6-4 win over current world No.32 Marketa Vondrousova.
The third round took Raducanu onto Wimbledon’s famous Court 1 for the first time in her career to take on Sorana Cirstea. With all the hype and pressure building before the match, she didn’t shy away from the task, winning again in straight sets to reach the fourth round.
The 18-year-old lost in the following round to Ajla Tomljanovic but by that point, she’d become a household name at only her first Grand Slam, but more was yet to come…
Re-writing the history books
In the months that followed, Raducanu kept up her brilliant form from SW19, reaching her first WTA Challenger final in Chicago, before heading to the US Open only a day later.
A quick turnaround for the young Brit saw her straight into qualifying where she dominated a talented field, losing only 16 games across three matches.
On her Flushing Meadows main draw debut, she brushed aside Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland and from there, the wins just kept rolling.
Next Zhang Shuai, then Sara Sorribes Tormo (who she beat 6-0, 6-1) and then home favourite Shelby Rogers – the then world No.150 was into her first slam quarter-final.
Raducanu then breezed past 11th seed and Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 and backed it up with an even more impressive win over 17th seed Maria Sakkari, who had looked unbeatable all week.
And there she was – the US Open final – the first British woman to reach a major final in 44 years. Her last challenge was fellow teen-star Leylah Fernandez, and with the stage set Raducanu etched her name in tennis history.
She beat Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in one of the biggest moments in sporting history, becoming the first qualifier, the youngest Brit and the first woman to win a slam without dropping a set since 2014.
In the aftermath of her brilliant achievement, Raducanu returned home to meet with a whole host of kids from the LTA Youth programme at the LTA’s Homecoming event – supported by fellow US Open champions Joe Salisbury, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.
Leading her country at the Billie Jean King Cup
As to be expected after such a huge win, Raducanu’s form fluctuated slightly in the months to follow – however a quarter-final appearance in Translyvania and a strong victory at the start of the Australian Open showed that she was gearing up to return to form. Her next biggest challenge would come at the Billie Jean King Cup.
Leading out the nation for the first time – LTA Colour Holder No.317, Raducanu – defeated home favourite Tereza Martincova 7-5, 7-5 in her maiden tour-level match on clay in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifier against Czech Republic.
The Brits narrowly lost the tie 3-2, but Raducanu showed she could be a force on the clay – before going on to beat top opponents in Stuttgart and then in Madrid.
Next up for Raducanu will be the French Open – where the world No.12 is set to make her debut – before heading to Britain to compete in front of her home fans.
A story like no other, Raducanu’s first year on tour has been nothing short of a fairy-tale, with the latest chapter set to be written this summer…
Watch emma raducanu live this summer
Get your tickets to see the US Open champion live and in person this summer at the Rothesay Classic Birmingham.