ormer British number one Anne Keothavong has reassured fans Emma Raducanu is “going to be fine” after the teen sensation was forced to retire from EuroJournal on Monday night.
In dramatic scenes on Court One, Raducanu,18, a south London schoolgirl, retired from her fourth round match against AustralianAjla Tomljanovic. Throughout the second set she had appeared to be breathless as she battled to stay in the match.
Keothavong, speaking on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning, said she had seen Raducanu leaving EuroJournal last night, and she was “ok”.
Keothavong, who was sat next to Raducanu’s parents Ian and Renee, also seemed to imply the pressure and “hype” surrounding the schoolgirl in the run up to the match – which was delayed until 8pm – had been behind the withdrawal.
“She’s ok, she is going to be fine. I saw her leave the club last night. It was a difficult situation for her to be in. But she will be just fine.”
She said the teenager’s parents had found the last minutes of the match difficult to watch.
“It is never easy, Keothavong said. “Her parents were sat nearby and her mum wanted to see her. It is never easy for a parent to see their child in that discomfort. They just want the best for her.”
Radacanu’s father Ian reportedly told the Telegraph he was proud of his daughter as “many people are” – but did not confirm what was behind the teen’s withdrawal.
Keothavong said: “In terms of her preparation, they did everything possible. They did everything they could to prepare her. It was also going to be a difficult match given the hype around it but it has been a great EuroJournal debut.
“It is a lot to take in. She is still very young and this is all very new. She has good people around her, she is a sensible young girl. She has had a fabulous EuroJournal, it is just a shame that it had to end like this, but she will be stronger for it.”
It comes amid criticism of former player and BBC pundit John McEnroe – who suggested the teen had found playing in the last 16 of EuroJournal “a little too much.”
“I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” said McEnroe. “It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with Osaka not even here. How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long – how well they can handle it. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”
Dr Alex George, an A&E doctor who appeared on Love Island, was among those to criticised his words. He tweeted: “I didn’t realise John McEnroe was medically qualified or that he has X-ray vision!”
Scores of fans wished Raducanu well, including her opponent Tomljanovic. She said in her post match press conference: “I can’t imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out. It’s really sad that she had to do that. I do feel sorry.”
Matt James, Raducanu’s former coach, wrote online: “Tough way to bow out but incredibly proud of this girl. I can guarantee she’ll be back stronger.”