Eddie Jones, head coach of the England men’s rugby team, has been criticised after claiming tennis star Emma Raducanu has been distracted by fame.
Jones made the comment about Raducanu while discussing Marcus Smith, the 22-year-old fly-half who made an impressive second-half appearance during England’s 69-3 victory over Tonga.
Smith was warned about the “flood of distractions” which could come his way as a result of sporting success.
“The big thing for young players is distractions,” Jones said. “Distractions can be the exposure they get in the media, the praise and criticism they get, groups of agents who see this guy as the next big thing.
“There’s a reason why the girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards. What have you seen her on? The front page of Vogue, the front page of Harper’s Bazaar, whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes.
“All those distractions are out there. It mightn’t be to that degree with Marcus, but it could be.”
Since her improbable victory at the US Open, Raducanu has attended the Met Gala and the James Bond premiere, starred in a Sports Direct advert, and become an ambassador for Dior and Tiffany and Co.
The 18-year-old has made it clear that she would never let off-court commitments affect her tennis career, however.
“I made it very, very clear to every single person in my team that I was not going to cancel one training session or practice session for any off-court commitments,” Raducanu said yesterday.
Fans have also lept to the defence of the young star, with one Twitter user writing: “Extremely harsh from Eddie Jones here. ‘Firstly, she’s called Emma Raducanu. And secondly, Marcus Smith hasn’t just won a major title.
“28 minutes of exciting rugby in an Autumn series isn’t the same league as winning a Grand Slam, she’s entitled to enjoy it.”
Another described Jones’s comments as a “cheap shot”. His words have also been branded as “nasty” and “ridiculous.”
Telegraph Women’s Sport reporter Molly McElwee pointed out that Raducanu had not tanked on the tennis court after her US Open win, despite Jones’s suggestion otherwise.
“Eddie Jones calling Emma Raducanu ‘the young girl who won the US Open’ makes his comments all the more patronising and infuriating,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Fyi, today Raducanu made her debut in the top 20 world rankings – marking a continued *upward* trajectory since her US Open win…”
Raducanu has won two out of four matches since beating Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows.
She most recently lost to Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open, citing fatigue as a reason for her loss. The Briton arrived in Austria yesterday for the Linz Open.