Emma Raducanu has been Wimbledon’s breath of fresh air but her Grand Slam debut ended in worrying circumstances with her struggling to breathe in the early part of the second set against Ajla Tomljanovic.
The 18-year-old, who defied her age and inexperience to comfortably be the last Briton standing in the draw, had gone toe-to-toe with the Australian in the opening set.
But she appeared to start hyperventilating early in the second set and received a medical timeout off court when trailing 6-4 3-0, from which she failed to return.
It was immediately unclear the extent of the issue but a clearly stunned Tomljanovic said: “I’m really shocked. Emma must be really, really hurt if she came to the decision to retire. I’m really sorry for her. I wish we could have finished it. I’m really wishing her all the best.”
The official reason given for Raducanu’s withdrawal was ‘difficulty breathing’, though it remains unclear what caused the issues.
It was such an unbefitting ending for a player who has delighted in her three previous matches, defying her world ranking of No338 and her relative lack of tennis having just completed A-levels in maths and economics two months before the start of the tournament.
Such has been her impact that Court No1 comfortably reached its 75 per cent capacity while a host of spectators braved the rain to watch on Henman Hill.
A potential renaming – Raducanu Rise, perhaps – will have to wait for another year but the support gave some indication of the impact her tennis has had on the Wimbledon faithful.
Raducanu had played from the outset as she had each Wimbledon match to date, aggressive and on the front foot, whipping the crowd into a frenzy of support much like Andy Murray.
And her heavy baseline play put Tomljanovic under pressure, leading to break points on successive service games which she could not convert.
But 50 minutes after play had begun late into Wimbledon’s Manic Monday at 8pm under a closed roof, the Briton lost the set.
From there, her hopes almost instantly evaporated, struggling to breathe and mentioning the need for medical help in the opening game, the first time the ice-cool teenager had looked rattled all tournament.
She was initially treated on court before being taken off. There was a lengthy wait before officials returned to announce Raducanu had been forced to abandon the match.