John McEnroe defends Emma Raducanu Wimbledon comments after US Open triumph

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 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

John McEnroe has stood by his much-maligned comments about Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon in the wake of her US Open triumph.

McEnroe had said at the time that the occasion had been too much for her after she retired from her fourth-round match in London against Ajla Tomljanovic after suffering from breathing difficulties.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion was heavily criticised for the comments on the BBC at the time but defended his position and said he would not backtrack from them.

“I meant exactly what I said,” he told CNN. “I tried to relate it in a small way to my experience when I first went to Wimbledon also at 18.

Watch: John McEnroe claims Wimbledon ‘got too much’ for Emma Raducanu

“There’s great upsides but there’s also pressure you put on yourself and expectations that others put on you. I meant that was to me as vanilla as it comes… I was very supportive of her, I thought, at the time.

“You know the papers in England. Sometimes they, like, make a big deal out of, to me, nothing.”

The way she bowed out of Wimbledon after such a meteoric rise to the last 16 of her home Grand Slam left McEnroe questioning how she would fare once more on a big stage like that of the US Open.

But the 18-year-old defied all expectations to become the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam as she defeated Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday’s final.

 (BBC)
(BBC)

It ensured she won the title after coming through 10 rounds – three of those in qualifying – without dropping a set. In the process, she became British No1 and rose from the 300s prior to Wimbledon to become the world No23.

And McEnroe said: “I don’t think you could possibly do it any better than she did. That’s insane that she’s been able to do this.”

Meanwhile, ESPN revealed that the women’s final of the US Open of Raducanu v Fernandez attracted a bigger audience in the United States than the men’s in a shift of figures.

Watch: The fear behind John McEnroe's angry outbursts

Its Saturday broadcast for the women’s final peaked at 3.4million viewers in contrast to a peak of 2.7m who tuned in to watch Daniil Medvedev win his first Grand Slam title in defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 24 hours later.

The women’s final had an average audience of 2.44m viewers, a 37% increase on the viewers for the previous years final between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka.

Channel 4, which had paid Amazon Prime a seven-figure sum to air its coverage of Raducanu becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title in 44 years, had previously revealed that a peak of 9.2m people had tuned in for the match.

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