Serena Williams example given to Emma Raducanu as Brit faces long road back

Emma Raducanu teaches tennis lesson from 4,000 miles away – via first-of-its-kind live 5G hologram

Emma Raducanu does not suffer from a lack of focus because of her endorsement commitments, despite suffering a drop-off in results following her US Open triumph. That’s the view of former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli who took the opportunity in a recent interview to spring to the 20-year-old British tennis star’s defence.

Raducanu burst into the spotlight as a teenager in 2021 when she became the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam title after clinching the women’s US Open singles title against Leylah Fernandez at Flushing Meadows without dropping a single set in the entire tournament.

By July 2022, she reached a career-high ranking of world number 10, but has suffered a major drop-off since, failing to win any ATP tour events in the 18 months since her stunning New York success. Currently injured since March, she will miss this week’s French Open and Wimbledon but is targeting a return to action as soon as possible.

Poor form and injury have seen Raducanu fall out of the top 100, dropping 96 places in 10 months. During that slump, the young star has been forced to endure social media abuse and criticism from pundits, with some citing her many brand association deals for a lack of focus on the court.

But Bartoli, who won her only Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 2013, before retiring from the sport two months later, has offered up Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams as examples of legendary players who built their own business empires whilst still performing to the very highest level at the same time.

And Bartoli remains convinced that there is no reason why Raducanu can not emulate their success and do the same herself, provided she is given more time to adjust to being in the spotlight after winning a Slam at such a young age.

Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports, Bartoli said: “She has so many more years ahead of her and if she can get her body ready, I don’t think there is a lack of focus. Of course, there are endorsements but Maria Sharapova had a lot of endorsements but she was extremely focused throughout her career and Serena Williams was the same.

“Players can have a lot of endorsements, but they’re able to deal that, so that’s not the issue for Emma. She didn’t have the time to get herself mentally and physically ready to deal with everything that’s been thrown at her since she won that Grand Slam, but it doesn’t mean she won’t be ready. It just requires slightly more time. Give her time and she will be fine.”

Soon after her US Open success, Raducanu parted company with coach Andrew Richardson and is now coached by German Sebastian Sachs.

Bartoli feels that Raducanu’s eventual return from injury will be like starting her tennis career all over again, with 2023 something of a lost cause, but the retired Frenchwoman belives that the British number one can be a force again, providing she is surrounded by the right people.

Bartoli said: “She may almost have to start all over again but I’m sure she can do it, I’m sure she’s ready for that. But she has to build a team around her that believes in what she’s doing and believes in getting her back into the top 10.

“Maybe 2023 is almost finished for her, but she has to use that for a build-up to 2024 and go and target the Grand Slams and the Olympics.”

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