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OPPORTUNITY: Murray hails Raducanu victory as a big moment for tennis

OPPORTUNITY: Murray hails Raducanu victory as a big moment for tennis

PA - John Walton

 

Andy Murray has hailed Emma Raducanu’s “incredible” US Open win and spoken of a “huge opportunity” for British tennis.

Kent teenager Raducanu took New York by storm, not dropping a set en route to victory as she became the first qualifier in history to claim a grand slam crown.

Fellow Briton Murray was asked about the 18-year-old at a press conference on Monday after his Rennes Open first-round victory over Yannick Maden.

And the three-time grand slam winner said: “It was incredible what she did there.

“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 (where Raducanu reached the fourth round before having to withdraw due to breathing difficulties) 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 beat Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final, is the first British woman to win a grand slam singles title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is convinced “we’ll be hearing about her for many, many years” after watching Raducanu’s meteoric rise in New York.

Former heptathlete Ennis-Hill, who carried the weight of a nation when delivering gold for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, has been hugely impressed at how Raducanu has bounced back from her disappointing ending at Wimbledon.

She told BBC Breakfast: “For her to come back at the age that she is and to be so resilient and put all those comments to bed and trust in her ability and know what she can achieve… she just went out there and performed and delivered. It was so inspiring and she seems like an amazing young woman with a fantastic future ahead of her.

“I hope she has this moment to just absorb what she has achieved and really celebrate it and then I’ve no doubt she’ll re-focus and we’ll be hearing about her for many, many years.”

The Lawn Tennis Association is hoping to capitalise on Raducanu’s soaring popularity to generate more Government funding to refurbish crumbling public park courts.

LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd told the BBC that 40 per cent of park courts are “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 on are there,” Lloyd said.

“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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