“Superstar” Emma Raducanu has been praised for the way she has handled the English tabloids with tennis great Chris Evert insisting that tennis remains the teenager’s number one priority.
Raducanu burst onto the scene last year when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and then followed it up with an extraordinary run at the US Open in September as she became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam.
Naturally she became the toast of the tennis world and dozens of sponsorship agreements followed as she signed deals with the likes of Dior, British Airways, Vodafone and Porsche.
— Emma Raducanu (@EmmaRaducanu) March 21, 2022
Back on the tennis court she has struggled to string together a decent run of results as she is yet to win back-to-back matches this year, which has resulted in question marks about her off-court activities.
Raducanu hit back at the criticism, saying: “Maybe you just see on the news or on social media me signing this or that deal, and I feel like it’s quite misleading because I’m doing five, six hours a day [of training]. I’m at the club for 12 hours a day,” she said.
“But I throw out one post in the car on the way to practice and all of a sudden it’s ‘I don’t focus on tennis’. I think that it is unfair but it’s something I have learned to deal with and become a bit more insensitive to the outside noise.”
And 18-time Grand Slam winner Evert believes Raducanu has handled the press and her career brilliantly so far.
“To be a superstar in England is like the toughest thing ever for a player,” the former world No 1 told Eurosport.
“Even tougher than being a superstar in America where there are so many more athletes in other sports or being a superstar in other countries.
“I just think with the tabloids in England it’s brutal. I mean basically, they camp out at your doorstep if you’re a superstar and that’s not good. I think Emma is handling everything beautifully.
“I think Emma has tennis as her number one priority and she’s working hard. It’s hard when these financial opportunities come along and they’re just offered to her to turn them down, and I think that’s fine as long as her number one priority is still to improve her game.
“It’s hard when you win a Grand Slam and you’re out of the top 100. That’s a tough, tough, tough act to follow and she’s feeling it, but she’s just got to put her nose to the grindstone and deal with it and work her way up, and I think she is doing that.
“She has got a great game, and she has got a great attitude. But it is tough being a superstar in England, and I saw that in the last 50 years I’ve seen that with English players.
“The press are just different in England, they are relentless, they build you up and then if you don’t live up to the expectations, they are just not as supportive.
“It’s not all the press there, but the tabloids, you just have to be thick-skinned. She has got to be thick-skinned. But I think she is.”