Emma Raducanu insists she is not concerned by public perceptions of her as she reflects on a memorable year.
The teenager took the world by storm as she created history by winning the US Open just two months after making an impressive debut run to the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Raducanu, who put her career on hold to concentrate on her A-Levels during the pandemic, saw her life change immediately as the red-carpet invitations and high-end sponsorship deals followed.
That led to some criticism, with England rugby coach Eddie Jones suggesting she had been distracted by off-court events.
Wow…that was some year🤯 2 pics to sum up my 2021 season🩸💧I want to say thank you & that I'm extremely grateful for your generous support. I’ve learnt many things at a fast pace on this incredible journey but all I can say is that I'm very excited & motivated for my next steps pic.twitter.com/SYgGccOx89Advertisement
— Emma Raducanu (@EmmaRaducanu) November 17, 2021
The 19-year-old appears wise beyond her years and is keeping the focus on herself.
“To me the things that matter are the expectations of myself and what I want to achieve and what I want to get out of the day,” she told Sky News.
“It’s just about improving and seeing yourself get better and I don’t take anyone else’s opinions into account except for my close circle.”
Anyone outside of the tennis world might struggle to understand the scale of what Raducanu achieved in New York, given how raw she was at the time.
She had played just one WTA Tour level tournament prior to her Wimbledon debut before embarking on an incredible run of wins at Flushing Meadows, posting 10 victories, all without dropping a set.
“Wimbledon was the first moment I was being competitive on a global scale. Obviously there was so much excitement going on and adrenaline I’d never felt before, because it was the first time,” Raducanu said.
“I was so proud and happy being at home playing in front of home crowd, it was such a special feeling especially out there on Court One, the biggest court I’ve ever played on, so I was really nervous but I absolutely loved it once I got out there.”
“I arrived in New York just hoping to get through qualifying maybe. I was pretty tired. I just had the most amazing time and I think the key to that was I just focused on the day.
“The time flew by, it went so fast by the end of it I was like, ‘I don’t want to leave yet, I want to stay’, and it was getting to the latter stages of the tournament and I was thinking, ‘But, what if? You’re here, so why not?’. But no one made a big deal of it.
“It wasn’t until maybe the last week when I thought ‘OK’ – I was having poke for dinner every single night for three weeks, because I didn’t want to take any chances,” she admitted.
“The best memories I have of New York is the amount of fun I had out there. I definitely felt I faced my own sort of obstacles and the way I overcame those.
“For example, the first time I stepped out onto Ashe (Arthur Ashe Stadium) I was quite nervous and didn’t realise until I started and got off to a slow start, and then the way I overcame that – by the end I was completely thriving out there in front of so many people.”