Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates with the championship trophy after her match against Leylah Fernandez of Canada (not pictured) in the women's singles final on day thirteen of the 2021 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sep 11, 2021. Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
It has taken a mere handful of tennis matches for Emma Raducanu to transform herself from complete unknown to global superstar. This is just Raducanu’s second grand slam main draw appearance and no woman in the Open era had ever won in so few attempts. At 18, she is the youngest grand slam champion since Maria Sharapova in 2004.
Raducanu beat fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 to end Britain's 44-year wait for a women's Grand Slam singles champion. Virginia Wade was the last British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title - at Wimbledon in 1977.
In an unprecedented run Raducanu became the first qualifier to win a major and has done so without dropping a set.
"A star is born," tennis legend Martina Navratilova said. "Emma Raducanu makes history and she is just getting started."
The Queen led the congratulations to Emma Raducanu after the 18-year-old clinched the US Open title with a stunning victory in New York.
Screenshot from Telegraph
"I send my congratulations to you on your success," the Queen said. "It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication."
In a statement, the monarch added: "I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players."
Hours after Raducanu had won the championship, she found time to send a message to her fans in China in fluent Mandarin. “Hi, everyone,” she said in the video posting. “I want to say thank you to you guys and I hope you could enjoy my tennis. I’m thrilled to win. Love you all.” Raducanu’s mother Renee – full name Dong Mei Zhai – grew up in Shenyang, a city in north-east China. Overnight, the number of Raducanu’s followers on Instagram more than doubled to 1.3m.
Raducanu was born in Canada before moving to the UK at the age of two. Her father Ian, who works in finance, is Romanian but had emigrated to Toronto where he met Renee prior to the move to Bromley. Raducanu is an only child, educated at Newstead Wood School, a grammar school in nearby Orpington, where former pupils include the world champion sprinter Dina Asher-Smith.
The school has “churned out a lot of good athletes”, said Raducanu on Sunday, heaping praise on the institution for giving her the “flexibility” to study and play tennis.
But it is hard to look beyond Raducanu’s parents for the inspiration and drive that has launched her into the sporting stratosphere. She has repeatedly attributed her tenacity to her mother.
Raducanu has been a regular traveller to both Romania, where she has enjoyed her grandmother’s cooking in Bucharest, and to Shenyang where she played with the local table tennis club to improve her shot reaction speed.