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Why Emma Raducanu’s Win is Important for Female Tennis

Recently, it has been almost an impossible task to read the news and not hear about tennis’s newest brightest star, Emma Raducanu, who has been caught in a sensational media whirlwind after her historic win at the US open. She has become Britain’s first female grand slam champion since Virgina Wade won Wimbledon in 1977, and was the first qualifier to do so, a feat even more impressive when you consider that she is only 18 years old. As completely remarkable as this is, it is accentuated by looking at her challenging time in her Wimbledon debut, which ended in emotional circumstances due to breathing difficulties and resulted in her withdrawing from the competition. This all make it almost difficult to believe that her tennis career only fully began three months ago, where she started the summer ranked 366th in the world. Now, she is ending it placed the world number 23, all just a month after receiving her A level examination results.

Emma Raducanu’s journey

Despite her young age, tennis has clearly been a lifelong passion for Emma – she had joined the Bromley Tennis Academy by the age of five before her potential was spotted by the Lawn Tennis Association. It is no secret that her potential seems boundless and career opportunities limitless, with tennis legend Martina Navratilova stating, ‘a star is born’. Since then, exclusive invitations to the Met Gala and multiple appearances on primetime American chat shows have featured in Emma’s life post her US open win, opportunities that seem like dreams come true for so many of us.

 Emma cites her ‘calmness and mental strength’ during and after her matches stems from her upbringing and her parents, a Chinese mother and Romanian father who moved to London from Canada when she was two. Her parents can be considered perhaps the only sad point in Emma’s otherwise fairy tale beginning, as they have been unable to watch any of her matches in person due to strict US covid travel restrictions. Perhaps what makes Emma Raducanu’s US open success so exciting is the feeling that we are watching the beginnings of a very great, long, and successful tennis career.

The increase of women’s coverage

With the spotlight so fixated on Emma and her tennis success, it raises attention towards the sport as a whole, particularly in regards to its female players and female games and her importance in the female side of the sport. In recent years, it can be said that male domination of the sport in the public eye has been quite prevalent – if you asked someone on the street to name a tennis player, there is a high chance that they would name Andy Murray, or Rafeal Nadal. One could argue that Emma helps to bring the level of uncertainty that makes sport exciting – with Djokovic winning six of the last 10 Wimbledon’s, there is arguably a certain element of predictability that comes with this male dominance.  Emma’s win helps to popularise and bring prominence to female tennis success, and display the exciting, unpredictable nature of the sport in female games. Her win can also be viewed as incredibly positive because it is helping to bring more girls into the sport, and hopefully create amazing female tennis players.

There also needs to be a consideration into the media coverage of female tennis players, and what the articles regarding them focus on. This is relevant when looking at the incredible player Serena Williams, who unfortunately does not always appear in the media because her many successes in the game. The headlines concerning Serena Williams display the still archaic conventions that surround women in sport, particularly when it comes to clothing. In the 2021 Australian open, Serena’s colourful unitard, which was tightfitting due to medical advice concerning blood clots because of the recent birth of her baby, was the main source of attention, rather than her game. French Tennis president Bernard Giudicelli saying her outfit would be ‘no longer accepted’, highlighting the still present unfair an old fashioned conventions that govern female sport, in this instance clothing.

Emma’ win means that we have another incredible female sports star in the rise. This reminds us that there needs to be a consideration when moving forward that depictions of female tennis players focus more on their incredible talent as athletes, rather than still being held up to these outdated standards.

Hi, I'm Harriet! I'm a second year English Literature student at the University of Bristol.
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