Emma Raducanu ‘ready to go’ ahead of Centre Court debut at Wimbledon

Briton, 19, has been in a race against time to be fit for the third Grand Slam of the year after sustaining a side strain in Nottingham earlier this month

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Emma Raducanu declared herself fit and "ready to go" as she prepares to make her Centre Court debut at Wimbledon on Monday.

The Briton, 19, has been in a race against time to be fit for the third Grand Slam of the year after sustaining a side strain in Nottingham earlier this month.

“I think that this week was a good build-up. Definitely there were moments earlier on in the week we weren’t really sure. We were sort of going to see how the week goes. But it went pretty well," the world No 11 told reporters.

“And now it’s full steam ahead. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. We’re all ready. Right now I’m fit. I’m ready to go.”

Raducanu, bidding to become the first British woman to win Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977, sparked alarm by pulling out of a scheduled second practice session on Friday against Garbine Muguruza on Court One but she sort to play down the significance, saying: “We just had to react to the situation.

“I already practised in the morning. So we all collectively thought it was the best decision to pass on the afternoon session.”

Raducanu’s return to Wimbledon - she reached the last 16 at the All England Club 12 months ago before withdrawing from her match against Ajla Tomljanovic because of breathing difficulties - caps a whirlwind first year on tour. The teenager has gone from a largely unknown wild card fresh out of school to a global star who won the 2021 US Open without dropping a set.

Her clash with Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck on Monday will be her first experience of playing on Centre Court, with the attention and expectation enormous.

Raducanu, though, is determined to embrace everything that comes her way

“This year I get such a special feeling walking around the grounds,” she said. “I definitely feel that people are behind me. Even from some of the people working on the tournament, they’re like, ‘You got this’. Just cheering me on. That’s pretty special in itself.

“One of the perks is I don’t need to cross the road at Aorangi to practise now on Court 28 or something. That’s definitely a perk.

“I feel like last year I came straight out of my exams, I was fresh, ready to play. I feel the same excitement this year, because I think Wimbledon just brings that out of me especially.

“But I’m definitely looking forward to it. Just going to play like a kid who just loves playing tennis. It’s always my dream to step out on Centre Court. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and started playing tennis for."

Raducanu’s ups and downs since that remarkable night in New York have been well documented, with intense scrutiny of her results, physical travails and coaching choices.

Like with Andrew Richardson in New York, the teenager has turned to a well-trusted coach from her junior days – Jane O’Donoghue – to guide her through Wimbledon.

"I think that I as a tennis player have actually grown and developed and have skills that I maybe didn’t have last year," she added.

“But everyone knows me now. Everyone knows the sort of things I was doing last year. Everyone wants to beat me. I sort of take that as a compliment if players are raising their game against me.

“Over time I will be a better tennis player. I’m 19 years old. If I hadn’t won the US Open, I think the past year or the way that I’ve been heading, it wouldn’t be necessarily a bad thing.

“I think I still have hopefully 15 years or something more in my career to go. I’m just at the beginning of it. So I’m looking forward for this long-term journey.”

Updated: June 26, 2022, 9:59 AM
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