Queens of the court: Emma Raducanu and Duchess of Cambridge meet up for tennis match in London

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Queens of the court: Emma Raducanu and Duchess of Cambridge meet up for tennis match in London
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It was the ultimate tennis doubles partnership: the Queen of Flushing Meadow and the woman who will one day be the real Queen.

As Emma Raducanu was given an official homecoming after her victory at the US Open, she was joined on court by the tennis-mad Duchess of Cambridge.

It was a star-studded moment with the cream of British tennis, as the pair were joined on court at the Lawn Tennis Association’s London base by Britain’s three other champions from the US Open, Joe Salisbury and wheelchair doubles pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.

Even in such stellar company, the duchess more than held her own - even impressing Raducanu with her forehand.

“Her forehand was incredible,” said Raducanu. “I was very impressed. It was a lot of fun to play tennis with the duchess.”

They played the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton (Jeremy Selwyn)
They played the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton (Jeremy Selwyn)

The knock-up started with Sam Richardson, the LTA head of programmes, telling them not to be too competitive at the beginning. “How many Grand Slam titles have we got on the court?” he joked.

But his plea for them to take it easy was quickly forgotten as Kate and Raducanu played against the wheelchair pair. “It’s getting competitive already!” he said after one scorching rally.

Raducanu said: “We were definitely ramping it up after the short warm-up and everyone was definitely competitive.”

As the five them played in various different combinations, the tennis became fast and furious, with some long rallies. “Unbelievable!” said Richardson after one of Kate’s winners. “Lovely point!”

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

He said afterwards: “I said, ‘Get warmed up first of all,’ but that didn’t last very long. They were hitting the ball pretty hard quite quickly. It was great to watch.”

He said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the standard of Kate’s play. “I think she was perhaps a bit nervous, as anyone would be coming on against four Grand Slam champions. But she held her own - she was brilliant. Her forehand in particular was very strong. I think she hit two shots that landed plum on the line. That’s a pretty good shot. She looked like she was having a good time, and was playing well.”

The first pairing of Raducanu and Kate, who turned up with her own racket, was “quite something to see”, he said. “They seemed to gel quite well and be having a good time together.”

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

Joe Salisbury, who achieved the rare feat of winning two titles at the US Open - men’s doubles and mixed doubles - said: “It was really good fun. I was very impressed by Kate’s level. She obviously loves it, and has played a lot before, but it was good fun to be on court with her. Her forehand was very good.”

At one point Raducanu was left on the sidelines while the other four played. She immediately decided that she should take up the role of ballgirl.

“My new job!” she laughed. “I always wanted to be a ballgirl. Being a ballgirl was my dream.

“But I don’t think I would make it at Wimbledon. I’m a bit slow!”

Before the duchess arrived at Roehampton, Raducanu was asked by one of the other players about her knee injury, which stopped play during the last set of the US Open final. “It’s scarring up nicely,” she laughed.

As Kate arrived, already dressed for tennis and with her racket in her hand, she said: “I’m not sure if we are shaking hands. I don’t want to break your bubbles!”

Congratulating them on their victories - four Grand Slam titles between them - she said: “Amazing, guys, honestly. Congratulations. It was seriously impressive. It’s so nice to see all of you back here in your home countries to celebrate.”

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