Andy Murray has publicly heaped praise on Emma Raducanu and believes her astonishing US Open heroics can help boost British tennis.
Raducanu has become the talk of the sporting world after she dominated the Flushing Meadows tournament, becoming the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam – and did so without dropping a set.
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam winner and last British person to triumph when he won at Wimbledon in 2016, understands the significance of what Raducanu achieved.
“It was incredible what she did there,” Murray said after defeating Yannick Maden 6-3 6-1 in the first round of the Rennes Open. “I think for a lot of the people involved in British tennis, we knew she was extremely good.
“She hadn't competed much for the last sort of 18 months or so with school and coronavirus and those sorts of things, but I think at Wimbledon everyone sort of got a bit of a glimpse of how good she could be.
“I’ve spent a little bit of time around her on the practice court, but more so in the same building, training close to each other, and watching what she's doing, and she's obviously really, really good.
“But what she did in New York was very special, a huge boost for British tennis and gives hopefully the governing bodies an opportunity to capitalise on that and get more and more kids involved in the sport.
“It's great what she did and a huge opportunity for British tennis now.”
Raducanu, who burst onto the scene at SW19 where she reached the fourth round, defeated Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
Fresh after celebrating in New York with Raducanu and her team, former British number one Tim Henman is confident the 18-year-old can go on to dominate the sport.
“What’s been astonishing is how she’s taken it in her stride, at 18 years of age,” Henman told Radio Four’s Today programme. “The level of tennis she's played – she's won 10 matches to win the US Open – it's absolutely incredible.
“Pressure is all self-inflicted, but she's handled herself so well and that's what's so incredibly exciting for her moving forward, but also very exciting for us because we can follow that journey.
“For British tennis, British sport and for world tennis, it's really changed the landscape in the last three weeks.
“I’ve been around the game long enough to know who's good, who's very good, and who could be a flash in the pan, and that could not be further from the truth.
“She's the real deal, and she's going to win more of these events in the future, I'm convinced. She's going to be a superstar in this sport and an incredible role model for young girls and young children."
Henman is clearly still stunned by her performance at the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year as he added: “Fairytale runs don't always end with a victory and that's what's happened.
“I think I'm still slightly in shock so I dread to think how she feels.”
With Raducanu’s profile ever-growing, the Lawn Tennis Association are hoping to use her success as a springboard to persuade the government to give the sport more funding.
LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd is targeting the refurbishment of public park courts that are deteriorating around the UK – with 40 per cent in ‘poor or unplayable condition’.
“Our vision for the LTA is to open up tennis and to do that we need to ensure that the public facilities available for anyone to play are on there,” Lloyd told the BBC.
“We have invested £8.5million into local authorities to start the journey of putting them back into long-term sustainable use.
“But we're also very keen to work with Government to ensure we can finish that job and we think that's about another £15-20million worth of funding that could see 1,800 tennis courts in parks come back into use.”
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