As is usually the norm when a young athlete enters the spotlight, the world hasn’t stopped talking about Emma Raducanu.
Since winning the US Open in September, the 18-year-old has rapidly ascended through the world rankings and is now the new British number one.
She made history at Flushing Meadows by becoming the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam title.
Since her historic win, Raducanu has signed ambassador deals with Dior and Tiffany, plus has attended lavish events including the Met Gala and a homecoming celebration where she played doubles with the Duchess of Cambridge.
She has also received regular praise from tennis icons Andy Murray and Tim Henman. Childhood hero Simona Halep of Romania has also waxed lyrical about the Brit on numerous occasions.
However, her journey to the top hasn’t just consisted of lucrative sponsorships and a casual knock about with a member of the Royal Family. Raducanu has come under some serious scrutiny since returning from New York — particularly off the back of her early exit from Indian Wells, the Transylvania Open, and most recently the Upper Austria Linz.
Eddie Jones, head coach of the England men’s rugby team, recently made a passing comment about Raducanu and how external distractions can affect performance.
“There’s a reason why the girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards,” he said. “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.”
Jones’ comments have received widespread backlash and former tennis star Justine Henin is the latest to back the teenager.
“Everything has gone very, very fast here in the span of a few weeks, between Wimbledon and the US Open,” she told Eurosport.
“There’s going to be a lot of digesting to do afterwards. Of course she’s in the spotlight now, and that’s something she’s going to have to deal with. When you win a Grand Slam, especially when you come out of nowhere surprising everyone, it raises a lot of interrogations.”
Henin went on to urge the public to ‘give Raducanu time’ in these months following her first ever major title. The former world number one also expressed her worries over Raducanu’s career moving forwards.
“We’ll have to give this player time because she’s going to have a lot to deal with, especially her image,” the Belgian commented. “Today, I would like to say, it is potentially one of the greatest dangers for a player’s career.
“Generally speaking, we are in a society where you have to manage your image more and more. Even if I personally try to have a slightly detached view of this, I also had to play the game during my career. But it was a totally different era.”
Henin admitted she feels “scared” for the younger tennis players coming through who may struggle with managing their image both on and off the court.
“It is true that in the end, managing this image is a bit of an obstacle on sporting performance because it takes a lot of energy, because there are the earnings of the sponsors, because you obviously have to play the game of the press and that is quite normal.”