EMMA RADUCANU INSISTS SHE HAS FALLEN BACK IN LOVE WITH TENNIS AFTER BEING LEFT 'MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED' BY THE SPORT... AS SHE DECLARES SHE HAS 'REKINDLED A FIRE INSIDE OF ME' AHEAD OF RETURN TO WIMBLEDON

  • Raducanu missed last year's Wimbledon due to injuries that required surgery
  • She previously admitted she has been left 'mentally and emotionally exhausted' 
  • Raducanu now insists she has fallen back in love with the sport 

Emma Raducanu says she has ‘rekindled a fire inside of me’ and fallen back in love with tennis – just in time for Wimbledon.

The 21-year-old took a long break from competition after a defeat in Madrid which left her ‘mentally and emotionally exhausted’. But she returned to the court to make the semi-finals in Nottingham last week and was in a sunny mood here by the seaside in Eastbourne.

‘I love tennis,’ said Raducanu, who was feeling so chipper she took a selfie with the media before our chat. ‘It’s kind of taken over me. I’ve rekindled a fire inside of me. Just very happy and enjoying it a lot.

‘I would say it was right before Nottingham it happened. I’m just really grateful to have this feeling again because it’s something I’ve been missing for the last few years.

‘I’ve haven’t felt this good about my tennis and this passionate for a long, long time. I’m way less focused on the result because I know with the way I’m training and competing, good things are 100 per cent going to happen. I have full faith and belief in that now - I can actually say it and mean it at the same time, rather than just saying it.’

Raducanu has certainly seemed world weary at times since her extraordinary 2021 US Open win. She has felt the bite of the social media serpent on a daily basis and an injury has never been too far away.

There was plenty of criticism of her decision to skip French Open qualifying last month but it seems that an almost two-month spell of recovery and practice may have been exactly what she needed.

‘I feel in a lot better spirits on and off the court,’ she said. ‘It's showing in my day to day. I'm a lot brighter and bubblier. Someone commented the other day: “It's like back to your old self”. And I would actually say no, it's my new self, because I have the experiences I've learned from the past me, too. I like figuring out the challenges because I know there are inevitably going to be some.’

The next challenge for ‘the new Raducanu’ is taking on Sloane Stevens, a fellow US Open champion, in the first round of Eastbourne’s Rothesay International on Tuesday.

It will be their first meeting since Raducanu beat the American in the 2022 Australian Open, her first Grand Slam after winning in New York. Stephens took issue with some of Raducanu’s voluble celebrations in that match and afterwards said her young opponent had ‘a lot to learn’ and would have ‘a lot of ups and downs’. That prediction has been borne out. 

‘For sure, I’m not going to deny that,’ agreed Raducanu. ‘She could say that because she was in a similar situation I guess, she won the US Open too.

‘Last time we played she was a bit rusty I would say. This year she’s won a title so I'm expecting a really difficult match.’

Read more

2024-06-24T17:56:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd