Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu looks set to win the hearts of British tennis fans on Centre Court today after already impressing some key figures in the game in her early appearances at SW19.
Raducanu, who is ranked 338th in the world and earned her spot at Wimbledon via a wild-card entry, is all set to take on Romania’s Sorana Cirstea looking to book her place in the last 16 of the tournament in what is already a dream tournament for the teenage starlet.
Raducanu defeated Russian world No. 150 Vitalia Diatchenko in straight sets in the first round, then repeated the feat against Czech Republic’s world No. 42 Marketa Vondrousova.
Now Raducanu is set to play a starring role as she opens up the day’s play on No. 1 Court against 45th-ranked Cirstea.
Raducanu’s appearances so far have earned her praise, including from former top 10 player James Blake, who paid tribute to her performance, and her mentality, in her victory over Vondrousova.
“Just watched the end of Emma Raducanu’s match. Tremendous performance for a [wild card] at 18 years old but, possibly more impressive, I saw her clean up her own trash at the end of the match,” he told Wimbledon.com.
“Don’t see that often. Great habit. Don’t change.”
Raducanu’s run to the third round has pushed her into the consciousness of British tennis fans.
But, rather than shrink under the added scrutiny, she’s embracing the occasion and said she’s relishing having the crowd’s support at SW19.
“Yeah, I think playing in front of a home crowd definitely helps,” she said.
“I mean, their support is so loud and they’re so behind me.
“I’m really grateful. I’ve definitely got that in the back of my mind.
“Also I was just thinking, you know, to play every point like it was my last point, like it was match point, it was my last point here at Wimbledon.
“I think that also is a trick that I’ve been playing with myself.”
Raducanu is looking for success, both on and off the court this summer.
While she attempts to go as far as she can in the biggest tennis tournament in the world, the 18-year-old is also waiting to receive her A-level results.
When asked if she’d rather have a spot in the fourth round at Wimbledon or A-star grades across the board, she put tennis first.
“I’d have to say round four of Wimbledon,” she admitted.
“I think anyone that knows me would be like, What?
“Everyone thinks I’m absolutely fanatic about my school results. They think I have such an inflated ego about it.
“Actually, I would say I have high standards of myself.
“That’s helped me get to where I am in terms of tennis and also in terms of school results.
“I’d still pick round four.”
Exam grades will be the last thing on her mind when she strides onto No. 1 Court today, however, where a packed crowd – and huge TV audience – will look to cheer her on to victory.
She’s also received words of support from the likes of Andy Murray, and she said she’s boosted by the support she’s receiving across social media this summer.
“I’m really grateful for all the messages that I’ve been receiving,” she said.
“I’m sorry if I can’t reply to all of them right now. But just know I’m really grateful and appreciative about them all.
“It definitely helps. Like when I have some downtime, I start scrolling and reading all their positive messages, it just gives me such a great feeling that I’ve got this many people behind me.
“I’m really, really grateful for everyone’s support.”
It’s a big day for one of the newest stars of British tennis, and, while her coach has stated that the “sky’s the limit” for Raducanu, she’s just focusing on the experience and enjoying every moment.
“I would say that I haven’t even thought about anything that would be to come,” she admitted.
“I’m just really enjoying my experience and my journey that I’m going through right now.
“I think for me, someone who has not been able to compete much, has always been sort of held back by something, I think that just to be able to be at The Championships, I feel like I’m on a holiday, like it’s unbelievable.
“I just want to stay here for as long as I can.”