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Congratulations to Piers Morgan, the real winner of the women’s US Open

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A couple of months ago, tennis prodigy Emma Raducanu was sitting her A-levels. As of last night, having won the US Open against fellow star sportswoman Leylah Fernandez, she’s a global sensation and undisputed British No 1. The first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, and the first qualifier to win a major tournament ever, Raducanu has bewitched viewers around the world. And in my case, she’s made me care about tennis for the first time in my life.

Just kidding. I couldn’t summon up interest in a sport if you paid me (my fee for this article, a case in point) – but Emma herself has struck something of a chord and I’ve been following her US run with sincere curiosity.

I heard about her when she got to Wimbledon – new kid on the block, so young, so talented – but my ears really pricked up when Piers Morgan (56) tweeted about Raducanu (18) after she suffered breathing difficulties on the court. Off to a flying start with a typo in her name and a weirdly formal honorific, Morgan wrote: “Ms Raducuna’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly. Not ‘brave’, just a shame.”

Professional contrarian Piers Morgan, picking a fight with a teenager? She must be brilliant! After that, as far as I was concerned, she could do no wrong.

Luckily, she didn’t. Raducanu’s journey to the top – making it to the final (and then taking the trophy) without dropping a set – was not only immaculate but totally gracious. Her on-court interview after the historic victory couldn’t fail to make a brick wall smile – here is a human being who has just achieved her dream, and her face is a picture of uncomplicated joy.

The first thing she does is congratulate her opponent, and over the course of the speech she makes plenty more references to Fernandez’s talent and tenacity. Looking over her shoulder, Raducanu catches Fernandez’s eye – there’s no other word for the expression they share than “beaming”.

It was a joy to watch two young women play so beautifully and then conduct themselves with such poise. Piers certainly thought so. After Twitter pointed out the irony of his post-Wimbledon appraisal of Raducanu, he decided that she hadn’t succeeded despite his criticism; on the contrary, she took his “advice” and won because of it.

In response to one Twitter user who questioned that logic, Morgan wrote: “The words you’re seeking are, ‘Thanks Piers’”. If anything, then, Raducanu was remiss not to dedicate her whole speech to her tough-love mentor: “Thanks for insulting me! It really helped!”

So congratulations to Piers Morgan, the real winner of the women’s US Open. I’m 10 years older than Raducanu (and um, a lot less famous) but I am half Morgan’s age which – fingers crossed – ought to make me a suitable opponent. Here’s hoping he deigns to take me to task online because by his logic, it’ll be the making of me. As we all know, it’s only when steeped in the persistent criticism of middle-aged men that young women can truly flourish, so Piers, I’m ready when you are.

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