On the week of 13 October 2002, Westlife’s ‘Unbreakable’ hit the top of the UK singles chart. So this then, was the perfect week for the future of British tennis to be born.
Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu has burst onto the scene this week at Wimbledon and will now compete in the third round in her very first Grand Slam, having only made her maiden appearance on the WTA tour last month. It’s been a staggering rise from a woman who only finished her A-levels two months ago.
She epitomises everything that is brilliant about modern Britain. Born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, she moved to London when she was just two years old. This is multicultural Britain at its very best and now she is proud to represent the union flag while the packed stands at Wimbledon cheer every single point she wins.
Of course, there’s been a whole lot that has happened during the 16 years she has called this country home. She began playing tennis at five, and was eventually spotted by the LTA’s Pro Scholarship programme which attempts to guide players with the highest potential into the professional game. Although tennis came first, Raducanu also fell in love with motocross and go-karting as her parents, who worked in finance, were able to raise a well-rounded and sport-obsessed individual.
Despite her talents as a teenager on the tennis court, she stayed dedicated to her studies - smashing her GCSEs while she turned professional in 2018 before winning her first three ITF titles. Her mathematics and economics A-levels, the results of which she will receive this summer, should help her digest the fact that she has, at Wimbledon this summer, earned £115,000 - four times more than she had earned in her fledgling career before SW19. Not bad for an 18-year-old, yet she has already shown the maturity to prove this new found money, and fame, won’t go to her head.
Six British women were handed wildcard entries into the singles draw, Raducanu is the only one left standing. Her performance against Marketa Vondrousova was remarkable as she showed power and determination, something that has already made her a hit amongst her colleagues. As a youngster, she trained with Andy Murray, while Heather Watson was stunned as she lifted 200kg hip thrusts in the gym. "Most of the guys can't do that," Watson told the Daily Telegraph last year.
"Just to be able to be at the championships, I feel like I'm on a holiday," Raducanu said after her second-round win. "It's unbelievable. I just want to stay here for as long as I can."
One thing is for sure, we may never see her current lowly ranking of 338th in the world again. She is set to shoot up the rankings even if she doesn’t beat Sorana Cirstea in round three, but the crowd will be right behind her as she looks to make more history. For British tennis, with Jack Draper also impressing this summer, the future looks bright.