Emma Raducanu warned of ‘greatest danger’ to her career as plea made to public

Emma Raducanu has been told that it is her public image which could be the "greatest danger" to her fledgling career as she sets out to conquer the tennis world.

The teenager is a surprise sporting superstar after becoming the first qualifier to win the US Open, and now has to perform with a huge weight of expectation upon her.

Some criticism has already been sent her way after something of a false start to life as a Grand Slam winner – defeats at Indian Wells, the Transylvania Open and the Upper Austria Ladies Linz competitions have not helped.

Despite fatigue, illness and injury having all played a role, Raducanu was slammed by England rugby union head coach Eddie Jones who claimed she had already been distracted by her commercial commitments.

"There’s a reason why the girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards," the 61-year-old said of the talented teenager.

"What have you seen her on? The front page of Vogue, the front page of Harper’s Bazaar, whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes. All those distractions are out there."

Many in the world of sport have criticised Jones' comments and leapt to Raducanu's defence, the latest being retired former world number one Justine Henin.

"Everything has gone very, very fast here in the span of a few weeks, between Wimbledon and the US Open," she told Eurosport.

"There's going to be a lot of digesting to do afterwards. Of course she's in the spotlight now, and that’s something she's going to have to deal with.

"When you win a Grand Slam, especially when you come out of nowhere surprising everyone, it raises a lot of interrogations."

Henin also pleaded for fans and pundits alike to be more patient with Raducanu, who she says will need more time to figure out how best to balance her tennis and her public image as she progresses.

"We'll have to give this player time because she’s going to have a lot to deal with, especially her image," the Belgian added. "Today, I would like to say, it is potentially one of the greatest dangers for a player's career.

"Generally speaking, we are in a society where you have to manage your image more and more.

"Even if I personally try to have a slightly detached view of this, I also had to play the game during my career. But it was a totally different era."

Raducanu ended her 2021 season with defeat to the world number 106 in Linz, and after a holiday will focus on working with new coach Torben Beltz to best prepare for the Australian Open, her first Grand Slam since her New York success.

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