‘Hardest thing in the world’: Raducanu on Wimbledon withdrawal

British teenage tennis star explains exit from tournament on health grounds after speculation from McEnroe, Morgan draws ire.

John McEnroe, right, suggested 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, left, had pulled out of Monday's fourth-round match because she could not handle the pressure of the occasion [Getty Images]

British teenage tennis star Emma Raducanu on Tuesday said her decision to retire mid-match in her fourth-round Wimbledon tie was based on medical advice after she “started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy”.

The 18-year-old Raducanu, whose unexpected progress at the major tournament had stunned fans, stopped playing while trailing in the second set of her match against Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday night.

Raducanu was visited by a trainer, then left the court for a medical timeout.

Eventually, the chair umpire announced Raducanu, who is of Chinese and Romanian heritage, would not continue because of a health issue, but did not specify why.

Explaining her withdrawal in a statement posted on social media, Raducanu said she had not been “well enough to carry on”.

“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. At the end of the first set, after some super intense rallies, I started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy,” she said.

“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.”

Raducanu, who is ranked 338 in the world and two months ago was sitting school exams, also said she was feeling “much better” as of Tuesday morning.

McEnroe remarks draw ire

Her statement came after former tennis ace John McEnroe and several others suggested Raducanu had pulled out of Monday’s match because she could not handle the pressure of the occasion – claims which sparked an immediate backlash.

“I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” McEnroe told viewers during the BBC’s broadcast of her last-16 match, adding: “It appears it got a bit too much, which is understandable.”

He then referred to Naomi Osaka, the four-time major champion who pulled out of the previous Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, and also missed Wimbledon because she said she needed a mental health break.

“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,” McEnroe said, adding he hoped Raducanu would “learn from this experience”.

The 62-year-old seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, who was known for angry outbursts on the court, regularly appears as an analyst on television coverage at the All England Club.

But Raducanu’s opponent, fellow British tennis player Andy Murray and an array of social media users were quick to criticise his comments.

 

“I can’t imagine being in her shoes, at 18, playing a fourth round in your home country. It’s something I can’t even imagine,” Tomljanovic said, when asked about McEnroe’s remarks. “For him to say that, it’s definitely harsh.”

Murray said he thought some of what McEnroe had said was “fair” but criticised the timing of his remarks.

“It was a bit off considering nobody had any clue what her issue was injury/illness/breathing issues etc at the time of his comments,” he tweeted.

‘Very harsh’

Meanwhile, several social media users also slammed 56-year-old British broadcaster Piers Morgan, who offered his own commentary on the situation.

“Ms Raducuna’s [sic] a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly. Not ‘brave’, just a shame,” tweeted Morgan, who recently quit a TV show after being challenged over his views.

“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.”

Murray dismissed Morgan’s analysis, describing it as “very harsh”.

Wimbledon organisers, for their part, said they were “very sad” about Raducanu’s withdrawal and wished her “all the best with her recovery”.

“She should be commended for the poise and maturity she has shown throughout the Wimbledon fortnight and we very much look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year and in the years to come,” the tournament’s organisers said in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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