Tiger Tim was Emma Raducanu’s REAL ‘inspiration’: How former British no1 was secret mentor to tennis superstar, 18, during US Open – and was court-side for every match while Covid rules kept her parents in UK
- Tim Henman helped mentor British star Emma Raducanu who won US Open final in New York on Saturday
- Raducanu’s parents Ian and Renee could not be in New York because of strict Covid-19 travel rules in US
- She’s been training in recent weeks under new coach Andrew Richardson, a contemporary of Henman
- Mr Richardson served as best man at Henman’s wedding to Lucy Heald in 1999 in Odiham, Hampshire
As a former British number one, he was employed by Amazon Prime to provide courtside analysis on TV and watched Emma Raducanu throughout the US Open.
But it turns out that Tim Henman was also a secret mentor to the 18-year-old star during the tournament which saw her become the first British woman to win a grand slam singles title since 1977 on Saturday.
His support was a huge boost to Raducanu whose parents Ian and Renee could not be in New York because of strict Covid-19 rules in the US which meant they would have needed a special exemption visa to travel.
In recent weeks Raducanu has been training under new coach Andrew Richardson, who was a contemporary of Henman and even served as best man at his wedding to Lucy Heald in 1999 in Odiham, Hampshire.
The appointment came after she decided to part with her previous coach of three years Nigel Sears, who is the father of Sir Andy Murray’s wife Kim, with whom the three-time Grand Slam winner has four children.
Tim Henman points at Emma Raducanu (left) as she wins her US Open final at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on Saturday
Emma Raducanu holds the US Open championship trophy after defeating Leylah Fernandez in the singles final on Saturday
Henman, 47, struggled to control his emotions during Saturday’s match and he was the first person Raducanu looked at after winning the game – and he was seen pointing towards her before smiling at her coaching team.
He was audibly hoarse while giving his post-match analysis having cheered throughout for Raducanu, who became the first qualifier to reach a slam final and the first woman ever to win a title in as few as two tournaments.
Henman backed Raducanu to add more grand slam titles to her maiden victory, telling Amazon Prime: ‘What she has achieved, second grand slam and the way she has gone about it, she will win more of these, she is that good.
‘This is not some flash in the pan or fairy tale. She is playing top five tennis. Her world will be turned upside down but she has good people around her. It will be a hell of a ride if she can stay injury free.’
Henman – known as ‘Tiger Tim’ – said Raducanu had ‘made it look ridiculously easy but it’s been a bit closer than the scoreline has suggested’ and praised her for her ‘resilience’, adding: ‘It’s an absolute joke, my legs are like jelly.’
Also cheering on Raducanu at Arthur Ashe Stadium was Virginia Wade, the last British woman to win both the US Open and a grand slam singles title 44 years ago – and she applauded Raducanu with a huge smile.
Raducanu has been training in recent weeks under new coach Andrew Richardson (circled), who was a contemporary of Henman and even served as best man at his wedding to Lucy Heald in 1999 in Odiham, Hampshire
Emma Raducanu with her team – physio Will Herbert (left), Mr Richardson (second right) and agent Chris Helliar (far right)
Raducanu said: ‘It means so much to have Virginia here and also Tim. Just to have such British legends and icons for me to follow in their footsteps, it definitely helps and gave me the belief that I could actually do it.’
Speaking after her semi-final victory, Raducanu had also praised Henman, saying: ‘Tim is honestly such a big inspiration. He has been helping me to treat one point at a time. You can’t get ahead of yourself.’
The Amazon broadcast team were also heavily invested in Raducanu, having already part-funded her amazing journey by contributing £60,000 towards her development through the Prime Video Future Talent Award in 2019.
Speaking before her win, Henman – who made the semi-finals of the US Open in 2004 – had told Sportsmail: ‘It is phenomenal the way she has gone about it with such limited experience and at such a high level.
‘She has been outstanding. The key thing is just concentrating on her game plan. She has played on [this court] a couple of times so she knows the surroundings.
Raducanu replaced her previous coach Nigel Sears (right, circled) – Sir Andy Murray’s father-in-law – with Mr Richardson
Former British number one Henman made the semi-finals of the US Open in 2004. He is pictured after that match in New York
‘It is hard at any age to shut out all the noise around her whether it be the media or friends getting in contact. She has to concentrate on what she is doing.’
Amazon Prime screened the game live, but in a last-minute deal it agreed to share the broadcast with Channel 4, so UK viewers could also watch it on free-to-air TV.
Raducanu beat Leylah Fernandez to emerge victorious in the US Open, winning all 20 sets she played in qualifying and the main draw.
She was sitting her A-Levels little more than three months ago having not played a competitive match for more than a year but she has burst onto the big stage like no-one before her.
Fernandez is only two months older having celebrated her 19th birthday last week but the Canadian, who had claimed a host of big scalps, including defending champion Naomi Osaka, had no answer to the brilliance of Raducanu, who claimed a 6-4 6-3 victory in an hour and 51 minutes.
Emma’s joy tinged with sadness: Teen says she ‘wished her parents were there’ to watch her win US Open after Covid rules kept them in UK
British tennis superstar Emma Raducanu has admitted that she wished her parents were in New York to watch her win the astonishing US Open final on Saturday after draconian Covid rules kept them in Britain in a candid post-match press conference.
The 18-year-old from Bromley, who became Britain’s first female Grand Slam champion in 44 years after beating Canadian rival Lelyah Fernandez in straight sets at Flushing Meadows, revealed she doesn’t talk much about tennis with her parents.
Raducanu also said her ‘tough to please’ father told her ‘you’re even better than I thought’ after becoming the first Briton to win a major since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and the first qualifier to triumph in a Grand Slam, in either the men’s or women’s game.
This is the father of Wimbledon golden girl Emma Raducanu who helped his daughter by playing tennis with her in their quiet cul-de-sac
Emma Raducan’s mother Renee attended her daughter’s matches at Wimbledon earlier this summer
She told reporters: ‘I speak to my parents, we don’t really talk so much about tennis but they just really want to know how I am in these moments and, you know, to not have them here with me, I would have loved them to be here and we can all celebrate together or they could be with me and experience the same things but you know, they’re watching from home very proud.
‘My dad said to me ‘you’re even better than your dad thought’ so that was reassuring. My dad’s definitely very tough to please but I managed to today.’
Raducanu’s parents Ian and Renee Raducanu have been hugely influential in their daughter’s remarkable journey.
Romanian Ian and Renee, who is Chinese, were living in Toronto, Canada, when only child Emma was born, and the family moved to the UK when she was two.
Both work in finance and home is in a cul-de-sac in Bromley, South East London, where Emma and her dad would hit tennis balls together in the street during the Covid lockdowns.
However, they weren’t able to travel to the US to attend the tournament because of Covid rules.
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