Former world number one Kim Clijsters has seemingly taken a swipe at Emma Raducanu while praising Iga Świątek’s iconic rise to the top of the WTA rankings.
The 20-year-old was bumped up to number one status following the retirement of Ashleigh Barty and a run of impressive form which saw her win both the Qatar Open and Indian Wells.
While not directly mentioning Raducanu by name, Clijsters has appeared to compare the two young stars’ progress since their individual maiden Grand Slam wins.
“To see Iga grow as a tennis player, it has been so beautiful for me,” Clijsters said in an interview with WTA (via Tennis World USA). “There’s a certain type of focus that is on tennis, and tennis only. There’s a drive there that I admire very much — a drive that I recognise. She’s had great results in the past, but she still wants to improve.
“We’ve seen others that kind of take a step back and say, ‘Oh, I’ve won a Slam now, I’ve made it. There’s sponsors coming in and I get treated like a princess wherever I go.’
“Just because you’re the number one player and have won Slams, doesn’t mean you should treat other people differently.”
The Belgian’s comments appear to be referring to Raducanu’s dip in form since winning the US Open last year and the hot topic of her lucrative brand endorsement deals.
Since her historic triumph at Flushing Meadows in September 2021, the 19-year-old has skyrocketed through the world rankings to become the new British number one, and 13th in the world overall.
Her astronomical rise saw her jump more than 300 places in just three months after going from a wildcard entrant at the Nottingham Open to the US Open champion.
However, since then, victories have been few and far between for Raducanu and many have piled on her business endeavours off the court, blaming them for the teenager’s alleged mentality shift.
Since returning from New York, the Brit has signed ambassadorial deals with the likes of Dior, Tiffany & Co., Evian, and British Airways. She is also a Nike-sponsored athlete and recently shook on her latest partnership with Porsche.
Raducanu has directly addressed talk that her new-found fame has consumed her attention and taken her focus away from tennis.
“Maybe you just see, on the news or on social media, me signing this or that deal and I feel like it’s quite misleading because I’m doing five, six hours a day [of training], I’m at the club for 12 hours a day,” she said.
“But I throw out one post in the car on the way to practise and all of a sudden it’s ‘I don’t focus on tennis’. I think that it is unfair but it’s something I have learned to deal with and become a bit more insensitive to the outside noise.
“I feel like my days [with sponsors] are pretty limited. I’m not doing crazy days. I’m doing three, four days every quarter, so it’s really not that much.”
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has defended Raducanu and hit out at the comments being made against her.
What’s with old retired players giving their opinion on our stars now? I love A-rod and I agree we all need to chill with the rackets and all that, but geezus, I read an article about a past female player talking about radacanu, no offence but she is a far far bigger name already— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) March 27, 2022
“What’s with old retired players giving their opinion on our stars now?” the Australian Open doubles champion tweeted. “I love A-rod [Andy Roddick] and I agree we all need to chill with the rackets and all that, but geezus, I read an article about a past female player talking about Raducanu, no offence but she is a far far bigger name already.”