Emma Raducanu: US Open winner would not wish to let go of the trophy
|Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 30 August-12 September|
|Cover: Daily radio commentary on the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra / BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentary and match reports on the website and app|
Emma Raducanu says she doesn’t want to let go of the US Open trophy after her fairy tale culminated in the ultimate happy ending in New York.
The 18-year-old is the first British woman in 44 years to have won an individual Grand Slam title without losing a set.
She is also the first female qualifier to win a major title.
“It means everything to hold this trophy and I don’t want to let go now,” she told former UK number one Tim Henman on Amazon Prime.
“There were weird feelings yesterday that I couldn’t pinpoint – I think that’s just normal. When I came out it was the same as before, point by point.
“I had to fight hard in the first set and stay ahead in the second. In the crucial moments I came out with a few clutch serves.”
Her sensational run at Flushing Meadows caught the audience’s imagination and she hopes her victory will make big dreams possible for others.
“I’ve always dreamed of winning a Grand Slam. Just say these things. But having faith and actually winning, I can’t believe,” she said.
“I started as a little girl but I think the biggest vision you can imagine is the moment of victory and celebrating with your team to find your way into the pits.
“That played in my head for a couple of nights.
“I only have one free swing”
The win over Canadian Leylah Fernandez crowns a remarkable rise for Raducanu, who only made her WTA peloton debut in June.
She was just playing in her second Grand Slam after reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon as a wildcard earlier this year.
Raducanu is the youngest female major champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 and the youngest Briton to ever win a slam title.
“It shows the future of women’s tennis and the depth of the game is so great – every player in the draw has a chance to win every tournament,” she said in her interview on the court.
“I hope the next generation can follow in the footsteps of some legends like Billie Jean [King] exactly here.”
She recovered 5-3 from a nasty fall while serving for the game, saving two breakpoints from the relentless Fernandez before converting her third championship point.
“I kind of fell thinking this was going to throw me off balance – I wasn’t praying for a double mistake!” said Raducanu.
“The level was extremely high and I hope that we will play against each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.”
Raducanu came through 10 games to win the title, including three qualifying rounds, beating Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and in shape Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.
“For me I feel absolutely no pressure. I’m still only 18 and just have a free swing with anything that comes my way,” she said.
“That’s how I’ve played every game here in the States. Yeah, it got me that trophy, so I don’t think I should change anything.”
“I love you, New York”
Fernandez, who turned 19 on Monday, put in a breathtaking run in New York and defeated defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 winner Angelique Kerber and runner-up Aryna Sabalenka in the last few days.
She has shown tenacity all along, winning crucial tie-breaks in four of her last five games at Flushing Meadows.
The teen also became a fan favorite due to her engaging nature and bold stroke play.
“It’s going to be tough today, but Emma played great. Congratulations, ”she said.
“I’m very proud of myself and the audience was amazing. Thank you New York. Thank you everyone.”
After answering questions, Fernandez asked for the microphone to deliver a message to the New York crowd on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
She praised the harshness of the city and said, “I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been in the last 20 years. I love you, New York and hope to see you next year.”
Neither Fernandez nor Raducanu were born when the attacks took place, and Fernandez asked their parents about their memories of the day on the morning of the game.
“Of course, I don’t know much about what really happened, but with what little information I have, I know that New York has suffered a lot over the past few years,” she said.
“Only you have [New Yorkers] happy here, alive, just being the way they were again, having my back in those difficult moments made me stronger and believed in myself. “
Leylah Fernandez defeated three of the top 5 seeds and reached the US Open final