What Emma Raducanu means for a more complex Britain

LONDON – Finally, Britain got the outpouring of national jubilation they dreamed of this summer, not from a men’s football team that nar...


LONDON – Finally, Britain got the outpouring of national jubilation they dreamed of this summer, not from a men’s football team that narrowly missed sporting immortality, but from a young woman with a beaming smile , Emma Raducanu, who emerged from obscurity to win the US Open tennis title on Saturday.

18-year-old Raducanu’s straight-set victory over 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez sparked an eruption of cheers from the crowd who gathered to watch the game in pubs in her hometown native, Bromley, and at neighboring tennis. club that put her on an unlikely path to New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“The atmosphere is lively,” said Dave Cooke, manager of the Parklangley Club, where Ms. Raducanu trained for several years, starting at the age of 6. The day after her victory, the members were bursting with pride, recounting how she came back after competing at Wimbledon for a training session.

“Just watching her train was phenomenal,” said member Julie Slatter, 54. “You just know she’s going to make it through.”

Queen Elizabeth wasted no time in congratulating the new champion on “a remarkable achievement at such a young age” which she said was “a testament to your hard work and dedication”. Looking slightly dazzled, Ms. Raducanu said, “Maybe I’ll frame this letter or something.”

Her victory has gone down in history on several counts: she became the first female player to win a Grand Slam title in the qualifying rounds and the first Briton to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade captured Wimbledon. in 1977. Ms Wade cheered on Ms Raducanu of the gallery, as did Billie Jean King on the winner’s podium – two champions crowning a new one and perhaps heralding a sparkling new era for British tennis.

For long-suffering British sports fans, Ms Raducanu’s victory was also a sort of redemption after England’s heartbreaking defeat in the European Championships final in July. England snatched defeat from victory in this game when they missed three shots on goal in the decisive shootout against Italy.

But on Saturday, Ms Raducanu didn’t leave a cut on her leg, from a late-game fall, stop her from sending Ms Fernandez, 6-4, 6-3, closing things with an ace before fall to the heart in a joyous celebration. The downtime she needed to get her leg bandaged was one of the few moments of anxiety for Ms Raducanu during a tournament in which she didn’t lose a single set.

Like the national football team, Ms Raducanu embodies the exuberant diversity of British society. His victory is both a tacit repudiation of the anti-immigration fervor that fueled the Brexit vote in 2016 and a reminder that whatever its policies, today’s polyglot Britain is a better place. complicated and interesting.

The daughter of a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, Mrs. Raducanu was born in Toronto in 2002. Her family moved to England when she was 2 years old and settled in Bromley, a suburb of London known for its parks. greenery and its good schools. A serious student, Ms. Raducanu took time off from her professional tour to study for exams, grateful to her mother for keeping her focused on studying.

“She got to where she is because she is a nice person and has worked hard and strived to make her dreams come true,” Mr. Cooke said.

Although he described Ms Raducanu as part of a generation of young athletes who have remained grounded and mentally strong, he said the Grand Slam title will put new pressure on him.

“You are doing something big, you are raising your own bar,” he said. “We have to take that pressure off him. “

Ms Raducanu first gained national attention in June when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon before stepping down, telling coaches she was struggling to breathe.

This setback has led some commentators, including John McEnroe, to express doubts about his sanity, especially at a time when another female star, Naomi Osaka, has spoken openly about her struggles with the pressures of the game. Flushing Meadows, however, Ms. Raducanu has silenced her critics. She looked fit, composed and relentless.

His performance inspired people from all corners of British society. In her old club, the girls talked about meeting Ms. Raducanu in the halls of the school or in local restaurants. Some said they hoped to follow in his footsteps.

“We want to get into tennis,” said Yuti Kumar, 14, who attends the same school as Ms. Raducanu, Newstead Wood School, where graduates include actress Gemma Chan and Dina Asher-Smith, an Olympic sprinter.

Actor Stephen Fry became a philosopher when he said on Twitter: “Yes, maybe it is” only “sport, but in this” only “there is so much joy, despair, glory, disappointment, wonder and hope A brief flicker of light in a dark world.

The Spice Girls made it easy. “@EmmaRaducanu, it’s Girl Power right there !!” the group tweeted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, Prince William and the Manchester United football team all sent their congratulations, as did right-wing Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who tweeted “a global megastar is born” .

David Lammy, a Labor MP who is black, noted that Mr Farage once said he would not be comfortable living next to a Romanian (Mr Farage then expressed regret for this remark). “You don’t have the right to piggyback on his incredible success,” Lammy posted on Twitter.

The dust echoed earlier in the summer when Mr Lammy slammed members of the Conservative Party for getting on the bandwagon of the English football team, once they started winning, after having previously criticized his players for kneeling before games to protest racial and social injustice. .

At Bromley on Sunday, however, the focus was on a local hero. Many believed its achievement would fuel a renewed interest in tennis – and other ambitions – among young people who struggled to find motivation during the pandemic.

“She’s a schoolgirl and she’s from Bromley,” said Jennifer Taylor, 40, sitting outside a pub. “I’m sure if she comes to Bromley it will be a huge welcome for her.”

As she prepared to return home, Ms Raducanu hinted at Britain’s eventful sporting summer, in which millions of fans, including herself, took to chanting the theme of England team, “Football is coming home”.

Post pictures of her waving a Union Jack and holding the Open champion’s silver cup, she said, “We’re taking her HOMEEE.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: What Emma Raducanu means for a more complex Britain
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