Emma Raducanu has elaborated on her decision to withdraw from Wimbledon on Tuesday. The 18-year-old was 4-6, 0-3 down against Ajla Tomljanovic before deciding to quit – having been seen hyperventilating beforehand. And after being criticised by John McEnroe, she’s now come out fighting.
Raducanu was accused of letting the occasion overawe her by McEnroe, who was commentating for the BBC.
But, in an interview with the broadcaster, she’s now made it clear she withdrew because of medical advice – and not because she let the occasion get the better of her.
“I’m doing well thank you for asking,” she said. “I’m just glad I was able to recover so quickly.”
When Sue Barker told Raducanu she and other fans were worried, the teenager then responded by saying: “I think that, in the moment on court one the atmosphere was one again incredible to play in front of.
“I was obviously really really disappointed I couldn’t finish the match, I obviously wanted to be able to compete and try my best.
“But the medical advice was to pull out and I followed it up because I think their advice was the best in the end.”
She then continued: “I found it difficult to regulate my breathing.
“I think that it was emphasised by some very long rallies we had towards the end of the first set, which made it tough for me to keep my composure and breathing in check.
“And then, at the beginning of the second set was when I struggled with it the most and I had the trainer on and made the decision at the end of the changeover.”
When asked what the cause was, she said: “No, I don’t know what caused it.
“A combination of everything that’s gone on behind the scenes in the past week and an accumulation of the buzz.
“I think it’s a great learning experience from me going forward and hopefully next time I’ll be better prepared.”
McEnroe was stinging in his criticism at the time of the incident, saying: “I feel bad for Emma, obviously.
“It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with Osaka not even here.
“How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long – how well they can handle it.
“Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”
And Tracey Austin also expressed a belief that it all became too much for the teenager, though backed her to respond.
“I think the moment just became too large,” she said.
“When you go back a week she was really in obscurity. Nobody sides intel Brits knew who Emma Raducanu was.
“I didn’t know who she was or how to say her name last week! All of a sudden she wins three matches as a wildcard and she’s played so well against Cirstea.
“First time ever on Court One and she even said she played above her level and said she’d never hit some of those shots before and surprised herself.
“All of a sudden she has a day off and she’s all over the papers, all the expectations, and what’s in front of her is the fairytale is still going on and she has a winnable match in the fourth round.
“It’s almost too good to be true for both of them. You have Tomljanovic who’s 75th in the world and Raducanu who is 338th in the world. This may never happen again where you have such a large opportunity to get to the quarter-finals.
“Both were tight at the beginning and you just squeeze too tight and become overwhelmed because the opportunity is so big. It became real, reality kind of checked in at that point.
“It was a long day, they didn’t start until about 8pm, that’s a long time to think about the match.
“She really has not played enough matches. It was almost just too much. For an 18-year-old with not a lot of foundation and experience, just done her A Levels in April, it was I think a bit too much to ask.
“It was really tough to see her kind of hyperventilating out there and then not to be able to come back and take that wave of appreciation. The crowd had really done such a good job, they’d done their part to help her get there.”
Wimbledon have also released a statement defending their schedule.
“We were very sad to see Emma forced to withdraw from her match last night and wish her all the best with her recovery,” they said.
“She should be commended for the poise and maturity she has shown throughout the Wimbledon fortnight and we very much look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year and in the years to come.
“In respect of scheduling, as always, the scheduling of the order of play each day at The Championships is a complex operation, and although we take great care when scheduling matches and allocating courts on a daily basis, it is not an exact science.
“All decisions are made with fairness and the best interests of the tournament, players, spectators and our worldwide broadcast audience at heart, but the unpredictable nature of the length of matches and the British weather can and will cause disruption to any schedule.”
Author: Jack Otway
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