Emma Raducanu issues fitness update as Wimbledon preparation begins with grass-court return

The 21-year-old will play her first match since April in the Nottingham Open on Tuesday

Jonathan Veal
Monday 10 June 2024 18:39
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Emma Raducanu chose to skip the French Open (Mike Egerton/PA)
Emma Raducanu chose to skip the French Open (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Emma Raducanu has to remind herself she needed a mobility scooter this time last year as she prepares for her latest career reboot.

The 21-year-old will play her first match since April on Tuesday after choosing to skip the French Open in order to prepare for the grass-court season, which begins with the Nottingham Open this week.

Raducanu, whose 2024 playing schedule has been sporadic, is taking small steps on her road to recovery from three surgeries this time last year, where she went under the knife on both wrists and an ankle, leaving her needing assistance to get around.

She is feeling “really healthy” ahead of her first-round match with Japanese Ena Shibahara.

“It was pretty surreal because obviously I couldn’t be on crutches because I’d had two wrist surgeries,” she said.

“So I had a cast on one hand – I’d timed it so I didn’t have two casts at the same time, obviously – a splint on the other and my ankle was also pretty much immobilised, in a splint and stitches.

“So I would just scooter around with one knee. As someone who is so active it’s difficult to just shut your body down.

“I think it’s very easy for me to lose sight of where I was exactly a year ago because it is pretty much a year ago to this day, this month.

“You get so caught up in your own world that you want more and more and more. But a year ago I was on a scooter scooting around and I didn’t know – there was an element of doubt.

“To be healthy and to be here, I need to cherish it. So thanks for reminding me to do that.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy. I feel really strong. I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery.

“I’m in a really fit place. I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were.

“So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule. It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations.”

It is fitting that Raducanu’s latest restart comes in Nottingham, which is where it all began for her three years ago.

She played – and lost – her first WTA Tour match but returned to a lower-tier tournament the next week and won two matches, which earned her a wildcard at Wimbledon.

Raducanu, then only 18, made it to the fourth round at SW19 before stunning the world two months later by winning the US Open as a qualifier – one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time.

“I would say Nottingham is a special place in my career,” she said. “I am fond of it because it’s where everything started, my first WTA match, then I played the 100k the week after and that is where I got my Wimbledon wildcard because I didn’t get it in the first announcement.

“I had to win two matches in the 100k and then I got the wildcard and made fourth round at Wimbledon. So it is a very special place, if I hadn’t got that wildcard who knows what would have happened, or if the US would have happened.

“So it is a compilation of small moments where you don’t know what is going to happen. It is obviously different coming back here having won the US Open than before.”

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