Wild card Emma Raducanu, reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. No one had expected her to be playing on No1. court against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic and she received an enthralled reaction from her home crowd.
However, Raducanu found herself losing 4-6, 0-3 and was forced to retire after 75 minutes due to dizziness and discomfort with her breathing.
Raducanu herself said “I think that the whole experience caught up with me”.
The 19-year-old rose to stardom when she won the US Open back in 2021 and was named BBC Sports Personality of the year just months later.
Since that triumph, she has failed to reach the semi-finals in any of the 17 subsequent tournaments and has only managed the quarter finals on three occasions.
Fortunes seem to have changed for Raducanu. She has been plagued by injuries since her win and is currently carrying a wrist injury, she has changed coach four times since and has struggled to maintain consistent form after being thrown into the spotlight.
If Raducanu only wins one grand slam it is still a remarkable achievement and she would not be alone in winning just one major, if she stays on that number: Jelena Ostapenko, Jana Novotna and Carolina Wozniaki all had remarkable careers that yielded only one Grand Slam.
Since the 2017 Australian Open there have been 21 slams and 14 different winners – just six of these players have earned more than one.
There is the question surrounding whether Raducanu’s commercial interests are affecting her focus on winning tennis matches.
Her partnerships with Dior, British Airways, Vodafone, Porsche, Nike and Tiffany’s are all lucrative but could they be a distraction for her?
These companies keep her in the public eye but with that comes a lot of added pressure. As she has failed to get past the first round of recent tournaments, it may be having a damaging effect to her performances as an elite athlete.
Raducanu has received criticism from England Rugby coach Eddie Jones who said: “The big thing for good young players is distractions. There’s a reason why the young girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards.”
Raducanu hit back at criticism in a Nike advert on her Instagram page where she runs across the court with the words ‘Fluke’, ‘One Hit Wonder’, and ‘Distracted’ written in large behind her. She then looks into the camera saying “world off, game on”.
However, her form does not seem to be reflecting this.
Due to her status, Raducanu now plays on the most high profile courts wherever she is – the glare of publicity is relentless. This intense pressure has contributed to the 19-year-old’s struggles repeating the form she showed in winning the US Open.
Another obstacle affecting her bid to add to her grand slam tally is her worrying list of injuries. Even her junior career was often interrupted due to injuries and her recent glutes and lower back issues have seen her withdraw from tournaments. Injury problems often increase with age so this will be a concern for Raducanu and her team.
It seems that her habit of changing coaches every four or five months is not helping her develop a consistent strategy. She is currently looking for her fifth coach and having had four previously, all with different ideas. It seems to have confused the star even more.
Dmitry Turnsnov, her most recent coach, cited ‘red flags’ in his relationship with Raducanu’s team which does not indicate for a settled and harmonious camp. Her father Ian is said to favour learning from many different coaches which has gained criticism from the likes of John McEnroe.
Is her father’s influence the root cause of Raducanu’s under performance since her blockbuster title last year?
On her social media it seems that she is enjoying her life and career. Perhaps for Raducanu she is happy to play at the level she is now, where the spotlight isn’t so intense.
She is only at the start of her career still so it is too early to say that she has already peaked.
If she is destined to end her career with just one slam it would still be considered a major success by most tennis professionals.
But it says much about how highly she is regarded that most of us would consider this to be an enormous underachievement.
It would be a shame if the only success we ever get to see was at the very start of her career because we all know how high her ceiling is.