Emma Raducanu explains how Wimbledon journey ‘caught up with me’ after being forced to retire

The 18-year-old’s sensational performances captured the hearts of home fans but her journey came to an anti-climactic end on Centre Court when she departed with breathing difficulties

Emma Raducanu explains how Wimbledon journey ‘caught up with me’ after being forced to retire

Emma Raducanu has explained how her fairytale week at Wimbledon “caught up with me” after she retired in the fourth round on medical grounds.

The 18-year-old’s sensational performances captured the hearts of British tennis fans but her journey came to an anti-climactic end on Centre Court when she departed with breathing difficulties, ceding the match to Australian opponent Ajla Tomljanovic who was leading by a set and 3-0.

In a statement on Tuesday, Raducanu said she was feeling “much better” and explained that she had felt dizzy.

“I was playing the best tennis of my life in front of an amazing crowd this week and I think the whole experience caught up with me,” she said. “At the end of the first set, after some super intense rallies, I started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy. The medical team advised me not to continue and although it felt like the hardest thing in the world not to be able to finish my Wimbledon on the court, I was not well enough to carry on.”

Despite the defeat, Raducanu is likely to shoot up the world rankings from her current station at No338 after three impressive straight-sets victories against Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, Czech player Maketa Vondrousova and Romania’s Sorana Cirstea – all ranked in the top 50.

“I want to thank the people who have cheered me on every single match, I wanted to win so badly for you!” she added. “Last night will go a long way to helping me learn what it takes to perform at the top. I will cherish everything we have achieved together this week and come back stronger! Can’t wait to see what’s next on my journey.”

The All England Club defended its scheduling which saw Raducanu play late on Monday, something out of kilter with typical timings at Wimbledon when women’s singles matches are played early ahead of the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

BBC commentator Tracy Austin voiced concerns over the length of time Raducanu had to mull the match beforehand, after a protracted men’s match and rain delays, but Wimbledon said: “Scheduling ... is not an exact science. All decisions are made with fairness and the best interests of the tournament, players, spectators and our worldwide broadcast audience at heart, but the unpredictable nature of the length of matches and the British weather can and will cause disruption to any schedule.”

Raducanu came in for criticism from some quarters, with BBC pundit John McEnroe suggesting the occasion “got a bit too much” for her and conflating Raducanu’s withdrawal with Naomi Osaka’s decision to miss the French Open and Wimbledon citing depression and anxiety.

“I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” McEnroe said. “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 weeks with Osaka not even here. How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys who have been around, and the girls, for so long, how well they can handle it. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”

Raducanu’s opponent Tomljanovic said McEnroe’s comments were “definitely harsh”.

Andy Murray also defended her on social media after the former TV presenter Piers Morgan tweeted: “McEnroe told the truth. Ms Raducanu’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly. Not ‘brave’, just a shame. If I were her, I’d tell my fans to stop abusing McEnroe, & seek his advice on how to toughen up & become a champion like he was.

“Mental strength and resilience are not dirty words. They’re good things that need to be taught, nurtured, encouraged & celebrated from school onwards. This would be immeasurably easier if so many high profile people stopped playing the victim.”

Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion, responded: “Think this is a very harsh take on the situation Piers.”

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