Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.
Emma Raducanu of Britain holds up the US Open championship trophy after defeating Leylah Fernandez of Canada during the women’s singles final of the US Open tennis championships on Sept. 11, 2021 (September 12 in Manila) in New York. AP PHOTO
British teenager Emma Raducanu completed the greatest underdog title run in tennis history on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), becoming the first qualifier to capture a Grand Slam crown by defeating Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the US Open women’s final.
The 18-year-old was the first British woman in 44 years to win a Slam crown after beating 19-year-old left-hander Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 to take the $2.5 million (2.1 million euro) top prize.
“I knew I would have to dig deep,” Raducanu said. “It was an incredibly difficult match but I thought the level was really high. I had to play some of my best tennis.”
It was a stunning achievement for the unheralded 150th-ranked teen, who didn’t drop a set in three qualifying matches and seven main-draw matches over two weeks in producing a stunner for the ages.
Raducanu is the youngest Slam champion since Maria Sharapova at 17 in 2004 at Wimbledon.
Not since Virginia Wade in 1977 at Wimbledon had a British woman taken a Slam singles title, with Raducanu the first Briton to claim the US Open crown since Wade in 1968.
Queen Elizabeth 2nd was among the first to pay tribute to Raducanu’s incredible triumph.
“It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication,” the British monarch said in a statement.
Wade and British men’s tennis legend Tim Henman were among a sellout crowd of 23,700 that created an electric atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first-ever women’s Slam final between unseeded players.
“It means so much to have Virginia here and also Tim and to have such British legends and icons, to follow in their footsteps and it gave me the belief I could actually do it.”
Raducanu has had the fewest Slam starts of any women’s Slam winner, reaching the fourth round in July at Wimbledon in her only prior Slam appearance.
Fernandez, ranked 73rd, had ousted defending champion Naomi Osaka, second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and fifth seed Elina Svitolina in her epic run to the final.
Raducanu is the youngest US Open champion since 17-year-old Serena Williams in 1999 and the first US Open women’s champion not to drop a set since Williams in 2014.
The prodigy showdown was the first all-teen Slam final since Williams beat 18-year-old Martina Hingis for the 1999 US Open title.
“Both of us were playing fearless tennis for two weeks,” Raducanu said. “I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.”
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