Emma Raducanu just became the first tennis player since the Open Era began in 1968 to make it through qualifying to win a Grand Slam. Entering the US Open ranked 150th in the world, the 18-year-old Brit won three matches in qualifying and all seven of her matches in the main draw. And when the dust settled, Raducanu emerged as the Queen of New York, and was crowned the 2021 US Open women’s singles champion.
After her straight sets victory over Leylah Annie Fernandez in the championship match, Raducanu spoke about the importance of the support she received from the New York crowd.
“Thank you to everyone in New York. Thank you all for making me feel so at home. From my first qualifying match all the way to the final. I love playing in front of you and you really spurred me on during some very difficult moments,” said Raducanu, who was born in Canada and moved to Britain when she was just two years old.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 11, 2021
It is interesting to note that she did not lose a single set during her ten victories throughout the qualifying rounds and the main draw. While Raducanu won in straight sets, the one hour and 51 minute championship match was anything but an easy walk in the park.
“From the very beginning I knew it was going to be an extremely difficult match because Leylah’s played some unbelievable tennis, taking out a lot of the top ten this week. So I knew I really had to bring my game,” said Raducanu in her post championship presser.
“There were some really great battles and I really had to dig deep to face quite a bit of adversity in both sets,” add the 18-year-old Brit about her 6-4, 6-3 victory over the breakout Canadian star.
Fernandez–who scored notable upset wins over Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, and Aryna Sabalenka–acknowledges Raducanu was the better player on this day.
“Emma is a very good player. She’s been playing incredibly these last few months – with a lot of confidence. I, unfortunately today, did one too many mistakes and Emma noticed it and she just took advantage of it,” said Fernandez in her post championship match presser. “Hopefully we will have many more tournaments together and many more finals.”
In winning this year’s US Open, Raducanu became the first British woman since Virginia Wade to capture a Grand Slam singles title. The 1977 Wimbledon women’s singles champion was in attendance in support of Raducanu at Flushing Meadows.
'I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players.'
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 11, 2021
“In the UK and Great Britain, Virginia Wade achieved such great results and she was an absolute legend and she was watching my match and I’m super honoured,” said Raducanu.
The 18-year-old first made a breakthrough run earlier this summer at Wimbledon when she reached the fourth round in London.
“At the beginning of the grass courts, I was coming fresh off my exams. I had three weeks to practice before my first tournament. I just built up after every single match, every single win. I thought Wimbledon was such an incredible experience–fourth round, second week I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
With the classroom portion of her schooling wrapping up after her after her exams, the 18-year-old Brit focused her learning on the tennis courts this summer.
“I was working hard after the grass (season). I didn’t have much time off. And then straight back out here in the States. With each match, each tournament and week, I think I really built in terms of my confidence, in terms of my game, in terms of my ball striking. I think to pull off some of the shots I did in the big moments when I really needed it was just an accumulation of everything I learned in the last five weeks,” said the newly crowned US Open champ.
Raducanu’s historic triumph in New York comes with a winners’ check worth USD$2.5 Million, as well as life changing attention and recognition.
Since her big victory, the newly crown Queen of the US Open has been getting congratulatory messages on social media from peers, celebrities, and even royalty.
Extraordinary @EmmaRaducanu 👏
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) September 11, 2021
While she is the person enjoying the spotlight, the well spoken 18-year-old quick to acknowledge the contributions of a dedicated support team behind the scenes towards her reign as US Open champion.
“You always dream of going up to the box and hugging everyone and celebrating,” said Raducanu, who was accompanied by security as she made her way to the player’s box to celebrate with her team immediately after winning her maiden Grand Slam.
“That’s something you always think of and you always work for. For that moment to actually happen, I’m just so grateful for my team that is here with me, and the team that is back home, and the Lawn Tennis Association and every person that has supported me along this journey.”
Main Photo from Getty.