“It was incredible,” Emma Raducanu says of playing at the Center Court tennis tournament at Eastbourne, England, last week, “especially since I’m no stranger to playing such great opponents in the Great Britain squad, including Alex Bogdanovic, who I beat to win the junior Wimbledon title.”
That’s not surprising, considering Raducanu is from Birmingham, England. Or because Raducanu has flown almost every aircraft in the world as a player, trainer and coach.
But it did not surprise her as much that she beat tennis players on grass, at Eastbourne, and won.
Raducanu, 13, rose to prominence in March when she won the Wimbledon junior girls’ title — beating (her) Bogdanovic 6-1, 6-2 in the finals — as the 100th player to be ranked No. 1 in the world in junior tennis.
As the Washington Post notes in its dispatch of the teen tennis star, she spent the next seven months coming back from the tournament win.
In July, the good news started: She made the Junior International at Cibona, Italy, in August. In September, she made the ITF Junior World Cup in Santiago, Chile. And a week ago, she won the GB Women’s Open in Eastbourne.
“I am so glad to be back home,” she said of the British tournament last week. “We flew back to the UK in style last Wednesday, when we arrived at London Heathrow Airport on an 8-metre luxury yacht. I love travelling, and it was such a treat to get back into the routine of coming home from tournaments.”
Raducanu has not only returned home to London — where her family lives and where she spent her fifth birthday — but she’s received another reminder of her tennis fame.
Last week, of course, Royal Moms Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle invited Raducanu and her mom, Monika, to the Wimbledon semifinals to watch Petra Kvitova, Raducanu’s favorite player.
Middleton and Meghan sat right at the back of the court while the top-seeded Bulgarian player Kvitova beat the Croatian player Donna Vekic, 6-4, 6-4. For her part, Raducanu was happy to attend the semifinals of the women’s singles. “I really enjoyed myself,” she said. “I was so happy to see them.”
It is not entirely unlikely that Raducanu will see Middleton again soon. On Thursday, the Raducanu family heads to New York to attend the Tsinghua University International Children’s Tennis Tournament on Saturday and Sunday.
“The tournament is the most exciting event in Beijing in regards to media coverage, especially around the cricket World Cup,” she said, which was part of the reason the Raducanu family had been chosen to be there. “I love the environment at this tournament. It is very close to my home, but we are in Beijing, so everything is a bit different. But it is such a great opportunity for me to mix with a bunch of talented and determined players from all over the world.”
It has been a wild ride for Raducanu, but it is just beginning.
“It has been amazing to see how my life has unfolded in such a short period of time,” she said. “I have made a lot of friends from this tournament and I will be making some new ones in New York.”