US Open winner Emma Raducanu has described Formula One star Lewis Hamilton as “such a good role model” and a “really cool person”.
Raducanu was speaking after her match at the Champions Tennis exhibition event at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The 19-year-old had just beaten Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 7-6 in front of an excited and lively crowd.
After hitting a number of signed tennis balls into the audience, Raducanu was interviewed by former British tennis player Andrew Castle. She was asked if she considered herself favourite to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Raducanu revealed she was backing Hamilton to win the accolade, and said the F1 driver had been helping her since her improbable victory at the US Open.
“I’m rooting for Lewis… he’s been such a good role model for me in terms of helping me through these next stages,” she said. “He’s a really cool person.”
Raducanu went on to discuss Hamilton’s chances of winning a record eighth F1 title, describing the run-in between the star and his rival Max Verstappen as “very close”.
After meeting Hamilton in person at the Met Gala in September, Raducanu revealed she was a big fan of motorsport and F1.
Back at the Royal Albert Hall, Raducanu set out her schedule until the Australian Open in February.
She will fly out to the Middle East to continue her pre-season training, spending Christmas there, before travelling on to Australia for her third Grand Slam tournament.
“My expectations for myself are just to keep improving. I want to look back at the end of the year and see that I made gains in any sort of area,” Raducanu said.
“I know that for me, it’s going to take a lot of patience to get to where I want to be, and smooth out that consistency. So I think that’s probably the biggest goal – it’s just building my robustness physically.
“It’ll be my first calendar year on the WTA Tour, so it will be a cool experience to play a full schedule. I’m just looking forward to learning. I’m still quite young, so I’ll learn and get better.”
Raducanu became the first qualifier, male or female, to earn a Grand Slam title at this year’s US Open.
She also became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Wade in 1977. The Briton made history in style, not dropping a single set on her way to victory.
Raducanu described winning the match point against Leylah Fernandez in the final at Flushing Meadows as “the best moment of my life”.
“It was that one moment of disbelief – I’d just done ‘it’. I didn’t quite know what ‘it’ was, but it was incredible. I was just speechless. I had an amazing time out there.”