If you were to peruse the coverage of the Emma Raducanu story over the last few months, you could be forgiven for suspecting the US Open champion had committed a crime.
The apparent joy too many observers have taken in the failings of a 19-year-old who could be one of the great assets to tennis over the next decade has been somewhat mystifying.
Becoming an overnight superstar was never going to be easy for Raducanu, as the leap from playing junior tennis tournaments with a handful of spectators at the start of 2021 to being promoted as the saviour of women’s tennis at a time when the sport is in need of new icons was a climb that was always likely to be followed by a stumble or two.
Those setbacks duly came as Raducanu found her feet on the WTA Tour, losing more games than she won as she made her debut in each tournament she entered.
This was not a tennis story anyone had tried to write before as no player had ever come through qualifying to win a Grand Slam title, yet those waiting for Raducanu to fail seemed to lap up her defeats with an unhealthy relish.
They blamed her sponsorship deals, her changing coaching set-up, her parents and everything other than the reality that a young player needs time to find her feet on a senior tour she had never played on before – and yet that has always been the issue here.
“What she achieved coming through qualifying to win a Grand Slam was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen in tennis,” former British No.1 Tim Henman told Tennis365 at a Play Your Way To Wimbledon event.
“I was so fortunate to be court side over those three weeks and she’s had a steep learning curve from there. It hasn’t been straight forward and she’s had plenty of adversity, but I’ve been so impressed with her attitude.
“She sometimes gets knocked down, but she dusts herself off and gets straight back up, she embraces those challenges and she has learned an enormous amount.
“I think she has played some really good tennis this year. There is no question about her ability and mental fortitude.
“The one area where she needs time and we have to be patient is the physicality and understanding what Tour life is all about. There is masses to be excited about and it is all about being patient.”
Henman’s words will have been echoed by anyone who has an appreciation of what is required to succeed in tennis, with many of those celebrating Raducanu’s failings coming from outside of a tennis bubble that has lapped up the interest in this precious talent.
Website editors around the globe discovered quickly during her run to the fourth round at Wimbledon and then her remarkable US Open win that Raducanu was a sporting story that reached beyond tennis and into a whole new market.
There was interest in what she wore, what she was earning from sponsors and each and every story delivered the clicks they craved.That added to their hope that Raducanu would keep on winning, but sporting fairytales rarely come without a fall or two along the way.
Now the tide may be about to turn.
As Raducanu prepares to start the defence of her US Open crown, she is starting to show signs that her form and confidence is returning just in time for her New York return.
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Wins against Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka at the Cincinatti Masters may have been assisted by opponents who were struggling to reach their peak form, but the strut was back in Raducanu’s stride.
Now she can look forward to her US Open return with real hope that she can shine once again at Flushing Meadows – when maybe those hoping she will fail will be silenced at last.
Check out coverage of All Court Tennis Club’s big event in New York with the Bryan brothers on August 30th at Tennis365.com.