Emma Raducanu says ‘I think the whole experience caught up with me’ as she opens up about Wimbledon exit

·6-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Emma Raducanu has said she is feeling “much better” following her shock retirement from Wimbledon - adding she was forced to withdraw from the competition as her debut experience “caught up” with her.

The teen star confirmed she was struggling to breathe and felt dizzy while on court on Monday night - meaning she was “not well enough to continue” and finish the match.

The tennis player, 18, said the decision to pull out was “the hardest thing in the world.”

In a statement on Twitter, she wrote: “I wanted to let everyone know that I am feeling much better this morning. I was playing the best tennis of my life in front of an amazing crowd this week and I think the whole experience caught up with me.

“At the end of the first set, after some super intense rallies, I started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy. The medical team advised me not to continue and although it felt like the hardest thing in the world not to be able to finish my Wimbledon on the court, I was not well enough to carry on.”

Raducanu continued: “I want to thank the people who have cheered me on every single match, I wanted to win so badly for you!”

“Last night will go a long way to helping me learn what it takes to perform at the top. I will cherish everything we have achieved together this week and come back stronger! Can’t wait to see what’s next on my journey.”

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Schoolgirl Raducanu’s brilliant Wimbledon run came to a sad end on Monday when she was forced to withdraw with breathing difficulties during the second set of her clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.

She paid tribute to Tomljanovic, adding: “I want to congratulate Ajla on an incredible performance and I’m sorry our match ended the way it did.”

In an interview with the BBC, Raducanu said she “didn’t know” what caused her breathing difficulties.

She said it might be the “combination of everything that has gone on behind the scenes in the past week and the accumulation of the excitement, the buzz. Next time, hopefully I will be better prepared.”

The star said the experience wouldn’t put a dampener on her Wimbledon, adding: “It has been the best week of my life.”

The player said she was yet to see her parents - but that she had spoken to them to “assure” her mother and father she was ok.

Wearing an England shirt, she predicted the Three Lions would win 2-1 in their Euros match against Denmark tomorrow.

There were high hopes the star, the youngest British woman to reach the second week at SW19 in the Open era, could claim another win against 75th-ranked Tomljanovic last night.

But in the second set, Raducanu had been noticeably struggling to breathe and, after consulting with the trainer and doctor, she took a medical timeout where it was deemed she could not continue.

 (PA)
(PA)

Last night, the teenager did not take part in a press conference, nor was there any clarification given on what had caused her breathing problems. It has been speculated that she suffered a panic attack or was hyperventilating due to the pressure of being on court.

Earlier on Tuesday, former British number one Anne Keothavong reassured fans A-Level student Raducanu is “going to be fine.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Keothavong, who was sat next to Raducanu’s parents - Ian and Renee - on court, said she had seen Raducanu leaving Wimbledon last night, and she was “ok”.

Keothavong said: “She’s ok, she is going to be fine. I saw her leave the club last night. It was a difficult situation for her to be in. But she will be just fine.”

The tennis player and broadcaster said the teenager’s parents had found the last minutes of the match difficult to watch.

“It is never easy,” Keothavong said. “Her parents were sat nearby and her mum wanted to see her. It is never easy for a parent to see their child in that discomfort. They just want the best for her.”

Raducanu’s overnight star power apparently prompted a change to the usual schedule, with her match put third on Court One instead of second, which is the normal protocol ahead of the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

This meant it was 8pm by the time the contest began under the roof, with an expectant crowd ready to cheer on the new home star after an anxious day waiting to get on court.

It is understood the timing was influenced by broadcast requests. Because of the delay, the match was shown at prime time on BBC One.

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

Wimbledon today said on the scheduling of the match: “We were very sad to see Emma forced to withdraw from her match last night and wish her all the best with her recovery. 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.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday, BBC commentator John McEnroe was criticised on social media for jumping to the conclusion that Raducanu could not handle the occasion and conflating her withdrawal with Naomi Osaka’s mental health difficulties.

McEnroe said on the BBC: “I feel bad for Emma. It appears that it got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about these last six weeks with Naomi Osaka not even here. How much can players handle? Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.“

Maybe it’s not a shame that it happened right now, when she’s 18. I think, seeing this, expectations drop a little bit, allow her to take a couple of deep breaths. She’ll get some nice wild cards into events now.”

Asked about McEnroe’s comments, Tomljanovic said: “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what was wrong with Emma. I’ll start with saying that I can’t imagine being in her shoes at 18, playing a fourth round in your home country.”

“For him to say that, it’s definitely harsh. I have experienced something similar but not to that extent. I can’t imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out. Being down 6-4 3-0, you can come back from that quickly, especially on grass. It’s really sad that she had to do that.”

Despite the disappointing ending, it has been a career-launching fortnight for Raducanu, who will climb to 175th in the rankings from her current mark of 338.

Tomljanovic faced world number one and countrywoman Ashleigh Barty.

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