From recovery to victory: Raducanu's journey back to the court has been a special one...

Emma Raducanu could not have been further away from the action as the grass court season unfolded a year ago.

After undergoing surgery on both wrists and her ankle, the 2021US Open champion was fully aware of the challenge she would face to get back on court and in the physical shape required to compete at the highest level.

Raducanu needed to start from scratch after her surgeries and spent some time in a mobility scooter at the start of her recovery this time last year, but the moment she had worked so hard for came in her opening match of this year in Auckland, with the victory she achieved against Elena-Gabriela Ruse one of the most precious in her short career.

Fluctuating fortunes in the months since has been an understandable narrative for a 21-year-old who has served up spells of brilliant tennis that have challenged the best players in the world, with some setbacks part of the story as Raducanu adapts to life back on the WTA Tour.

It is a pattern that is entirely predictable as this athlete has done everything backwards in her sporting journey.

The road to Grand Slam glory has never been the starting point of a tennis career, but that is the narrative Raducanu penned after her incredible fairytale of New York at the US Open three years ago.

Raducanu’s life changed overnight when she became the first qualifier to win a major title in the history of the game, with some A-list brands rushing to be part of a fairytale story that saw her placed in a spotlight that was always likely to be a little blinding.

Almost three years later, she admits her passion for tennis has been rekindled, with Raducanu’s performance on grass courts over the last few weeks confirming she is building towards a crescendo as she prepares to play at Wimbledon for the first time in two years.

“Becoming a different person overnight can change things and at such a young age, it’s easy to get caught up in it,” said Raducanu, as she spoke with refreshing honesty at the WTA 500 tournament in Eastbourne earlier this week.

“I think at one point I was chasing, playing too many tournaments when I wasn’t ready. Then I was just picking up niggle after niggle in every tournament because I never really gave myself any time to do the training and the work. I think that’s something I did a lot better this year.

“I’m just really into it at the moment. I just love the sport, I love tennis. It’s taken over me and I’ve rekindled a light in the fire inside of me.

“I’m grateful to have this feeling again because it’s something that I feel I’ve been missing in a way for the last few years and I haven’t felt this good about my tennis – just excited about it and passionate – for a long, long time.

“Now I’m way less focused on the result because I know with the way I’m training, the way I’m competing and fighting on the court, good things are 100 per cent going to happen.

“I have full faith and belief in that now and I can say it and mean it at the same time, rather than just saying it.”

A run to the semi-finals of the Nottingham Open earlier this month offered encouragement for Raducanu, yet it is her performances in Eastbourne that have started to crank up the expectations levels all over again.

An emphatic dismissal of 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens was an impressive starter, yet her stunning victory against world No.5 Jessica Pegula was a moment that confirmed Raducanu can mix it with the best in the game.

It was her first win against a player ranked in the top ten and in an instant, the hype machine that doesn’t need too much pushing to whip up around Raducanu is getting back into top gear.

“Jessica is a really class opponent,” said Raducanu, after her victory against a player who won a big WTA Tour title on grass in Berlin last weekend.

“She’s someone who is very in form right now, so it’s a great result for me and one I need to enjoy and cherish.

“Just the way I managed and handled the situations in that match, I’m extremely proud of. I fought through some really difficult situations with myself I’d say in the second set and first set. “So I think the way I was able to turn a corner and just look forward, there is no turning back at all, Second chances don’t really come by in this sport.

“The regret of not fighting and not trying my absolute best would have really haunted me after the match.”

This sporting superstar is a magnet for page views on websites, a money spinner for paparazzi photographers and a potential jewel in the crown of women’s tennis.

Here’s hoping everyone can be a winner in the second coming of Emma Raducanu.


Born: November 13 2002

  • First started playing tennis at the age of five at her local park courts in Bromley. 
  • Won her first senior title at the ITF $15K event in Tiberias, Israel at the age of 15 in May 2018.
  • Reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 girl’s singles event at Junior Wimbledon – losing to eventual winner and future French Open champion, Iga Swiatek
  • Became the youngest British woman in the Open Era to reach the last 16 of Wimbledon in 2021.
  • Created history by becoming the first qualifier, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era.
  • Became British No.1 following her US Open win.
  • Achieved a career-high ranking of No.10.