Emma Raducanu made a winning return to London today in a fun exhibition match at the Royal Albert Hall – and then revealed Lewis Hamilton had been mentoring her since her US Open triumph. The British No 1 beat Romanian World No 85 Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3 7-6 in a very friendly match.
And asked if she has prepared her winner’s speech for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award next month, the Bromley teenager and F1 fan said: “No definitely not. I am rooting for Lewis in the race.
“He has been such a good role model for me in terms of helping me out through the next stages. It is very close. Eight points so we will see.”
Raducanu also claimed her Wimbledon breakthrough when she reached the third round had been the key to her US Open triumph.
“Playing here in Wimbledon was the biggest match. It was the turning point,” she added.
“It was incredible and I was just I had an amazing time out there. But to me, I think tying it in with the third round I think was the greatest match for me.
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“I felt like it was the turning point. I felt like, oh my god I can actually do that moment. That crowd was comfortable. I felt incredible.”
This match was less fiercely contested at the APT Champions Tennis in the final event at the Royal Albert Hall.
Before the end of the warm up, there was the first male call of: “We love you Emma!”
And after starting her first service game with two long points, Ruse looked up to Raducanu and asked: “Are you tired yet?”
And a young male asked the US Open champion: “Emma, will you marry me?”
The hit-and-giggle match saw Raducanu donate a first game to her Romanian friend by volleying a long Ruse forehand from behind the baseline into the net to take the score to 3-1.
World No 85 Ruse sent down an underarm serve in her next service game – and Raducanu apologised after sending a backhand winner down the line.
On a second breakpoint at 1-5, Ruse recruited a ballboy to play the point and Raducanu, after third serve, allowed him to win the point before taking the set 6-3.
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The second set saw more fist pumps and chat with the crowd but more serious tennis until Raducanu served for the match – and Ruse this time gave her racquet to a ball girl before drawing level at 5-5.
The British No 1 took her first match point in the tiebreak and said: “It was amazing to play at home in front of everyone here. I felt it from the moment I walked out.
“It was an incredible atmosphere and I really enjoyed playing here.”