Britain’s Emma Raducanu becomes world’s youngest grand slam winner

Written by on September 13, 2021

British teenager Emma Raducanu won her first grand slam title by defeating Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the US Open final Saturday, completing a spectacular run at Flushing Meadows’ first all-teen final since 1999.

Raducanu is now the youngest grand slam winner since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004, and she also became the first British woman to win a major since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.

With her straight-set victory, Raducanu did not drop a set in the entire tournament.

“It was an incredibly difficult match, but I thought the level was extremely high,” Raducanu said afterward, congratulating Fernandez on the way she has played over the course of the tournament. “And I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and, hopefully, finals.”

Raducanu repelled a brief rally by Fernandez in the second set to take the title.

Up 5-2 in the second set, Raducanu twice needed just one more point to win it all. But Fernandez fought back each time, and eventually won the game to make it 5-3.

Then at 5-3, Raducanu skinned her knee in a lunge on the baseline during a point that left her 30-40 behind in the game.

After a medical timeout to tend to the bleeding knee, the serving Raducanu stormed back from break point to take the game and the championship.

“Staying in the moment, focusing on what I had to do and my process and the mindset just really helped in those tough times,” she said.

Raducanu, born to a Chinese mother and a Romanian father, had to go through three rounds of qualifying to even make the main draw for what is only her second grand slam appearance.

The 18-year-old had become the first qualifier in either men’s or women’s tennis to reach a grand slam final — and now, she has become the first qualifier to win one.

Even Raducanu expressed surprise at her dream run during the tournament, joking after her quarterfinal victory over Olympic champion Belinda Bencic that she had booked a flight home “at the end of qualifying.”

Incredibly, Raducanu did not drop a single set in the tournament — and blew away far more experienced opponents as it progressed.

When asked how she maintains such composure in high-pressure moments, Raducanu credited the lessons she received from her parents when growing up.

“I think that the calmness and the mental strength definitely comes from my upbringing,” she said ahead of the final.

“I think my parents have both instilled in me from a very young age to definitely have a positive attitude on court because, yeah, when I was younger, it was definitely an absolute no-go if I had any sort of bad attitude.”

Raducanu, ranked 150th in the world coming into the US Open, showed her potential at Wimbledon this year, capturing the hearts of the United Kingdom as she reached the fourth round before withdrawing with “breathing difficulties.”

But few could have imagined this dream run in New York.

“Thank you to everyone here, New York,” she said. “I love playing in front of you and you’ve really spurred me on in some very difficult moments and I hope that me and Leylah put on a good performance today.”

Fernandez offered congratulations to Raducanu, saying, “I hope to be back here in the finals and this time with a trophy — the right one, with the right trophy.”

She also paid tribute to New York on what was the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

“I know on this day it was especially hard for New York and everyone around the United States,” the Canadian teen said. “I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and as resilient as New York has been the past 20 years.”



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