Tennis legend Chris Evert has said Emma Raducanu is “handling everything beautifully” despite the pressure and expectation she believes is being heaped on her.
Nick Kyrgios was the latest player to back the 2021 US Open champion following criticism of her recent form from former stars on the WTA tour and the media.
Since winning the Grand Slam, which saw her jump up to being the No. 1 female British player in the WTA rankings, Raducanu has struggled for form, but even she has felt the need to defend herself.
“Maybe you just see on the news or on social media me signing this or that deal, and I feel like it’s quite misleading because I’m doing five, six hours a day [of training]. I’m at the club for 12 hours a day,” she said.
“But I throw out one post in the car on the way to practice and all of a sudden it’s ‘I don’t focus on tennis’. I think that it is unfair but it’s something I have learned to deal with and become a bit more insensitive to the outside noise.
“At the end of the day, I feel like my days [with sponsors] are pretty limited. I’m not doing crazy days. I’m doing three, four days every quarter, so it’s really not that much.”
Evert has thrown her support behind the Brit and emphasised just how tough it is for her to continue focusing on her tennis in the face of such media intrusion and pressure from the outside.
“To be a superstar in England is like the toughest thing ever for a player,” Evert told Eurosport.
“Even tougher than being a superstar in America where there are so many more athletes in other sports or being a superstar in other countries.
“I just think with the tabloids in England it’s brutal. I mean basically, they camp out at your doorstep if you’re a superstar and that’s not good. I think Emma is handling everything beautifully.
“I think Emma has tennis as her number one priority and she’s working hard. It’s hard when these financial opportunities come along and they’re just offered to her to turn them down, and I think that’s fine as long as her number one priority is still to improve her game.
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“It’s hard when you win a Grand Slam and you’re out of the top 100. That’s a tough, tough, tough act to follow and she’s feeling it, but she’s just got to put her nose to the grindstone and deal with it and work her way up, and I think she is doing that.
“She has got a great game, and she has got a great attitude. But it is tough being a superstar in England, and I saw that in the last 50 years I’ve seen that with English players.
“The press are just different in England, they are relentless, they build you up and then if you don’t live up to the expectations, they are just not as supportive.
“It’s not all the press there, but the tabloids, you just have to be thick-skinned. She has got to be thick-skinned. But I think she is.”