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The British number one’s debut season on tour has been hit by injuries and Raducanu’s first match of the grass-court campaign lasted just seven games after suffering a side strain in Nottingham earlier this month.
She was subsequently forced to miss the WTA tournament in Eastbourne this week and a final decision on her participation was still yet to be made despite her presence in Friday’s draw, as her team continued to monitor the injury.
Fears were heightened that the US Open champion would be forced to withdraw after she did not appear at her scheduled practice session with Garbine Muguruza on Court No 1 later that afternoon. However, Raducanu practiced on Saturday and did not appear to be limited by the injury. She served in her workout and was hitting her groundstrokes powerfully in what was a positive sign ahead of the tournament.
Speaking ahead of her return to SW19, where she will play on Centre Court on the opening day of the tournament on Monday, Raducanu said she was excited to be back at Wimbledon for the first time since her sensational victory in New York last September, which came after the British player burst onto the scene with an unexpected run to the fourth round on her Wimbledon debut
“I think that this week was a good build-up,” Raducanu said. “There were moments earlier on in the week we weren’t really sure. We were sort of going to see how the week goes. But it went pretty well. Now it’s full steam ahead. Right now I’m fit. I’m ready to go. I’m looking forward to it. That’s it.
“I’ve been managing it since Nottingham. I took two weeks off. Yesterday we just had to react to the situation. I already practiced in the morning, so we all collectively thought it was the best decision to pass on the afternoon session as well and stay fresh and ready to go.”
Raducanu said she had been handed a “tricky” opening draw against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck, an established top-50 player who has a game well suited to grass.
She will also be making her Centre Court debut after the opening order of play revealed her match will come in between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on Monday.
Raducanu won her only previous match with Van Uytvanck, which came last August in Chicago when Raducanu was still an unheralded teenager and the Belgian was the tournament’s top seed.
“I definitely feel game-wise I back myself pretty much against anyone,” Raducanu said. “I feel if I really put my mind to it and commit, then I can be pretty good. So I’m definitely looking forward to the match.
“But she’s a real tricky opponent, especially on grass courts. I think this surface definitely suits her well. She plays a pretty quick, high-tempo game. It’s definitely going to take some getting used to, being prepared for that straightaway.”
Raducanu’s return to WImbledon caps a remarkable 12 months for the Briton, who last year came into the tournament just weeks after finishing her A-Levels but this time is one the biggest names in the draw as a grand slam champion and the world number 11.
“I think it’s amazing,” Raducanu said. “This year I get such a special feeling walking around the grounds. I definitely feel that people are behind me. Even from some of the people working on the tournament, they’re like, ‘you got this’. Just cheering me on. That’s pretty special in itself.
“I feel like last year I came straight out of my exams, I was fresh, ready to play. I feel the same excitement this year, to be honest, because I think Wimbledon just brings that out of me especially.
“But I’m definitely looking forward to it. Just going to play like a kid who just loves playing tennis. It’s always my dream to step out on Centre Court. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and started playing tennis for.”