Emma Raducanu has been taking advice from Lewis Hamilton on how to cope with life in the spotlight.
US Open tennis champion Raducanu made a winning return to Britain at the ATP Champions Tour event at London’s Royal Albert Hall, beating Elena-Gabriela Ruse in a not-entirely-serious exhibition match.
The 19-year-old was playing on home soil for the first time since her historic Flushing Meadows triumph in September.
Afterwards Raducanu revealed Formula One world champion Hamilton has been mentoring her, and even said she was rooting for him to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, for which she is a huge favourite, next month.
Asked if she had already prepared her winners’ speech, Raducanu replied: “No, definitely not. I am rooting for Lewis.
“He has been such a good role model for me, in terms of just helping me through these next stages. He is a really cool person.
“I don’t even think about Sports Personality. For me it’s just something so far from the realms of possibility.
Emma Raducanu steps onto a British court for the first time since her US Open win pic.twitter.com/0DPPBl5is0
— Andy Sims (@AndyCSims) November 28, 2021
“He’s just been really cool in helping me. He said be patient, ride the wave, good reassurance. He’s a really cool guy.”
Raducanu’s knockabout with world number 85 Ruse, her friend and training partner, was a far cry from the tension and drama of the US Open final 79 days ago – or indeed her last appearance in Britain when she retired from her Wimbledon fourth-round match against Ajla Tomljanovic with breathing difficulties.
Nevertheless, Britain’s first female grand slam winner in 44 years won the match 6-3 7-6 (3) in front of a delighted crowd of around 4,000 people.
Among the joking between points, the marriage proposal from a spectator and the inevitable rallies with ball kids, Raducanu occasionally unleashed her powerful groundstrokes and effortlessly moved her opponent all around the court, just as she had during that glorious fortnight in New York.
Despite being about to embark on her first full year on the WTA Tour, Raducanu is already certain to be a big scalp for her opponents.
“I’m not sure of other people’s opinions of me,” she said. “It’s going to happen, pressure is a privilege. I thrive under the adrenaline, I hope.
“So for me I don’t really think about other people’s opinions or expectations. The only ones I have are that of myself, to improve and get better.”
Raducanu remains determined to stay grounded despite her stunning success, the Bromley teenager adding: “For me, I am just going about my business.
“I take the train sometimes. I am doing the same journeys I used to. I feel like I am the exact same person.
“I will go about everything I used to do. I don’t see why should I change the things that got me that title. I am still enjoying it.”