At Wimbledon, Emma Raducanu’s Withdrawal Decision Focuses on Getting Well


WIMBLEDON, England – British teenager Emma Raducanu withdrew from a fourth round match a day after she had trouble controlling her breathing. Wimbledon, he is back on the BBC for an interview with longtime host Sue Barker.

“I don’t know what caused it,” Raducanu said. “I think everything that happened behind the scenes last week was a combination of the buildup of excitement, the buzz.”

18-year-old Raducanu arrived at Wimbledon in his first main draw game with a wild card and a 338 rank. managed to beat three experienced players He’s down 4-6, 0-3 against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday in straight sets before retiring.

It was scary to see him put his left hand on his stomach and chest with obvious concern before calling the coach in the last games. It was also a reminder of the pressures of elite sport. Playing in something as exciting and potentially overwhelming as Wimbledon is a pretty good setting, especially for a young British hopeful who has suddenly become the center of attention.

Developing is not a given.

“I think you don’t know how to react when a long lens of the present is looking at you,” said Mark Petchey, the coach, commentator and former English player who has worked with Raducanu. “We know they’ve seen it over and over when great champions leave with their experience. But someone like Emma was stepping into a huge void of the unknown and didn’t know how to react.”

Before Wimbledon, Raducanu said the biggest crowd he’s ever played in was “maybe a hundred” people. He was in Court No. 1 on Monday night, under a closed roof, with several thousand people roaring for him. It was dizzying but ultimately too much, at least on this occasion.

“I think it’s been a great learning experience for me going forward,” he told Barker in his interview. “Now next time I hope I’ll be better prepared.”

Meanwhile, tennis officials may continue to consider how they can better serve the welfare of players, especially young players. This has been an important time of reflection in sports ever since. Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open After a clash with authorities over the decision to skip news conferences. When withdrawn before the second round match, coping with bouts of depression since winning her first Grand Slam singles title at the 2018 US Open.

The cases of Raducanu and Osaka are not necessarily comparable.

“Emma’s situation was very competitive and it suddenly became overwhelming,” Petchey said. “I don’t think Emma will personally feel that again, and I think it’s very different from Naomi’s situation, I think it’s the hardest thing in our sport right now because she’s a megastar and we have to figure that out somehow.”

Osaka, which represents Japan but is based in the United States, has not competed since the French Open, Skipping Wimbledon To spend time at home with friends and family in California. But Confirmed to Japanese broadcaster NHK He also takes mental health into account when he plans to attend the Tokyo Olympics, which will begin this week on July 23, and the press conferences that will be part of it.

Re-establishing this dialogue with the public and the news media after the standoff in Paris last month seems like a conciliatory and constructive move.

His repetitive and often negative criticism of the current system and his openness to his mental and emotional struggles have raised awareness of the challenges players face in tennis and beyond in the spotlight.

Osaka’s generation seems more attuned to this challenge and more willing to compromise. One of the changes is to avoid judgment.

“There’s always context and there’s always something going on behind the scenes,” said Daria Abramowicz, a sports psychologist who has worked with 20-year-old Polish tennis star Iga Swiatek and other elite athletes. “Even if you have a platform to talk to, that doesn’t mean you should use it all the time. I think this is one of the biggest challenges of living in the internet age for all people, but sport is a kind of magnifying glass. It’s easy to form an idea, but it’s not always good to do it without context or data because it can be very harmful.”

Who was Abramowicz? consulting Swiatek Long before he stepped out to win last year’s French Open, he said it was vital to prepare athletes for the situations they might face, rather than just helping them cope after they’ve met.

“I also feel like we often prepare athletes for a loss, how to deal with it and deal with it, but we don’t do enough to prepare them for what to do when you reach the top and achieve success,” he said.

Abramowicz is encouraging more athletes to work openly with sports psychologists and mental coaches at Wimbledon, including tennis stars like Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Tunisia’s Ounce Jabeur.

But he thinks everyone who comes into regular contact with the players needs to be better educated about mental health.

Everyone from stakeholders to coaches, physiotherapists, journalists to former players working on media platforms,” ​​he said. “After Roland Garros, I’ve already seen a difference from the WTA media team and how they approach players after a game. They ask about their health and ask if they feel comfortable doing the press after a game and when would be the best time to do it. ”

John McEnroe, a former actor working as an analyst at the BBC after Raducanu retired on Monday, said he felt bad for Raducanu and that the experience was “understandably a bit too much”. His comments attracted Criticism from Judy Murray, Andy Murray’s mother, and others Because it was speculative, Raducanu came without speaking to himself.

The youngest, least experienced players deserve the most thoughtful treatment. Putting Raducanu on a prime TV station in Court No. 1 may not have been the smartest or most empathetic move in retrospect. It was also not reassuring to read a report in the British news media on the morning of the fourth round match that predicted that Raducanu could become one of the top three earning players in women’s tennis if he could “keep in shape.”

This seemed premature at best and devastating at worst.

“I think it’s irresponsible to get into the hypothetical space so quickly,” Petchey said. “It would be unwise not to learn from history as part of the media. To pile this on the shoulders of an 18-year-old girl is completely useless to her development as a human being. Because basically what you’re doing sets the bar so high that anything but multiple Grand Slam titles is a failure.”

I hope Raducanu missed that piece because he and his team did their best to keep him in the moment.

“I didn’t spend that much time on my phone, I didn’t check the news,” he said on Tuesday. “We were in our own bubble, we did our own thing, we focused on the process, we did everything in our power and control to prepare for the next game.”

It was a match he couldn’t finish, but the reassuring thing is that when he plays at the next Wimbledon, he will have first-hand knowledge of what to expect.


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