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Emma Raducanu admits things have been a bit “surreal” over the last 12 months as she returns to the scene where it all began in Nottingham this week.
The teenager, fresh from completing her A Levels, made her debut WTA Tour appearance this time last year and no one could have predicted what was to happen in the following months.
After introducing herself to the nation with a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon, she became a global star when she made history by winning the US Open in September.
When she lost that first-round match to Harriet Dart last June only people involved in British tennis knew of her, but now she returns to the midlands city to compete in the Rothesay Open a household name.
Asked if she could have imagined what was in store for her, she replied: “Definitely not, it was my first WTA Tour tournament so to come back 12 months later full circle knowing what happened is pretty surreal.
“It is where it started over for me and I am proud of what I have achieved over the last 12 months.
“It signifies the start of a journey for me. It wasn’t the most positive week results wise but I learned a lot and it definitely set me in good stead for the rest of the season. I felt I built on that every single week.
“I came back to Nottingham a week after for another tournament and that’s when I was told I had received my Wimbledon wild card.
“I was really pleased about that so it really does bring back some great memories.”
Her rise to prominence could was perfectly evidenced by the fact she was asked to send the Queen a message for the Jubilee celebrations alongside Sir David Attenborough, David Beckham, Stephen Fry and Dame Julie Andrews.
“The message for the Queen, when I was asked to do that I was definitely a bit nervous,” she added.
“I was pronouncing all my ‘t’s’. It was pretty surreal and a real honour of course. And to see my face on the screen, I was like, ‘This can’t be real!’.”
Because of her meteoric rise, Raducanu, who is still only 19, lives life under the microscope and says there have been challenges achieving success so early in her career.
Her coaching situation, fitness issues and results come under constant scrutiny and as she settles to life on the tour, she is determined not to be too hard on herself.
“I am not being so hard on myself and I am really, really enjoying my time right now and also believing in the work I am doing day in, day out,” she said.
“I feel there are enough people who can do that job for me.
“Personally I think I know what I’m doing. I’m trusting what I’m doing and the work I’m doing. I’m still 19 and I’ve already won a grand slam so I can take my time and put things in place because I know my motivation isn’t any less.
“It is still as much but it isn’t always going to be smooth sailing where you just clean up every week. I trust what I do.
“I don’t think anyone would say, ‘I wish I didn’t wish a Grand Slam at 18’ because that is what I set out to do when I started playing tennis – and I did that.
“For that to happen very soon definitely comes with a lot of challenges but managing, learning and growing through the adversities that I have faced, I would much rather have that, learn from those experiences and keep building and progressing.
“I am doing the work from that because I did it a bit backwards.”