Emma Raducanu's new Nike advert decoded - what are the messages she's sending?

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  • Emma Raducanu
    Emma Raducanu
    British professional tennis player
  • Sloane Stephens
    Sloane Stephens
    American tennis player
Emma Raducanu plays American Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open first round - Nike/Emma Raducanu Instagram
Emma Raducanu plays American Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open first round - Nike/Emma Raducanu Instagram

Emma Raducanu and Nike have launched an edgy - and somewhat cryptic - major new advert ahead of her first grand slam appearance since the spectacular US Open triumph.

The striking 21-second clip, which has appeared overnight across all of Raducanu’s social media platforms, shows her trading a series of shots with large white words looming across an all-black background.

What does it all mean?

The chosen words, all in capitals, are certainly instructive: DISTRACTED. PERFECT. FLUKE. FLAWLESS. ONE-HIT WONDER. They clearly represent the extremes of opinion that have followed her glorious triumph at Flushing Meadows where, without dropping a set, she sensationally became the first female qualifier during the Open era to win a Grand Slam singles title. Gushing praise, however, has been mixed with those doubting whether she can back up the triumph with sustained success.

Most notably, England rugby union coach Eddie Jones questioned the potential distraction of commercial interests. “What have you seen her on – the front page of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar or whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes,” he said. “All that is a distraction around her.”

The US Open is the only WTA tournament that Raducanu has ever won and she suffered a thumping 6-0, 6-1 defeat to Elena Rybakina in Sydney on Wednesday in her final warm-up tournament before the Australian Open.

What other messages are coming across in the advert?

For all the contrasting words in the background, the advert still emphasises the power, grace, timing and athleticism of Raducanu’s tennis. She is receiving serve and, with the word ‘Perfect’ flashing up in the background, immediately rips a crushing forehand topspin across the net. She then surges forward for a sliding backhand volley, followed by an overhead smash and then, to the words ‘Flawless’, a rasping double-handed backhand. The noises of four perfectly timed shots are all amplified.

How does it end?

The twist is that, following a series of beautifully executed strokes, Raducanu loses the point after lunging for a meek and mistimed forehand. The advert then switches to the next point and, with Raducanu looking supremely focused as she waits to again receive serve, closes with the words ‘World Off. Game On’.

Her Instagram page also now has a double ‘barrier’ sign emoji. The message again appears clear. She is shutting her ears to the outside noise and switching her sole focus to tennis. The next three weeks should also tell us rather more about which of those words - Distracted. Perfect. Fluke. Flawless. One-hit wonder - best represents her progress since becoming Britain’s first female grand slam champion for 44 years.

When does she play?

The Australian Open starts this coming Monday (January 17), with Raducanu paired in the first round against the unseeded 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens. Raducanu, who is 19, is the number 17 seed for the tournament.

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