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Emma Raducanu reflects on ‘life-changing’ US Open win after late decision to turn pro

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EMMA RADUCANU became the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam when she lifted the US Open title last year.

Emma Raducanu has looked back on her historic US Open victory, admitting it wasn’t long before that she decided to turn pro. The 19-year-old was still an A-Level student up until last summer, when she made her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon. She now sits at No 13 in the WTA rankings and is starting her first full season on the pro tour.

Raducanu stunned the sporting world when she won the US Open as an 18-year-old qualifier last year, becoming the first qualifier in history to lift a Grand Slam title.

She had already made a name for herself at Wimbledon earlier in the summer fresh off the back of her A-Levels, making her Grand Slam debut as a wildcard while ranked down at world No 338.

The current world No 13 made it all the way to the second week without dropping a set, becoming a household name in her home country and stealing headlines away from England’s EURO 2020 squad in their run to the final.

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Wimbledon was just Raducanu’s second professional tournament while the US Open was her fourth, and the 19-year-old has since admitted she made the decision to turn pro just a couple of years earlier.

“The moment it really clicked in that I wanted to be a tennis player was actually pretty recently,” the Bromley teenager told Harper’s Bazaar.

“I mean I kept my education up all the way until finishing my A-Levels so maybe mid-GSCEs I was like ‘okay I’m not going to go to college, I’m going to try and be a professional tennis player, see how it works’ and I always had my education to fall back on.”

Raducanu only found out her A-Level results between her showings at Wimbledon and the US Open, achieving an A* in maths and an A in economics.

While she is still very early on in her career and only just starting her first full season as a pro, the 19-year-old has already achieved something ‘life-changing’ in winning the US Open.

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Speaking about her historic achievement from September, Raducanu said: “The career moment that probably changed my life was probably winning the US Open.

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“On that match point, I mean it was the best moment of my career so far. But since then I’ve had a lot of new things that have been exciting and yeah, that’s probably the moment.

“The most surreal moment has probably been once I landed that ace because it was just the second of I have no idea what happened, what I was doing, where I was. And yeah, I think that that sense of unknown was pretty surreal.”

Since her unprecedented victory in New York, the world No 13 has won three of her nine matches as she currently struggles with injuries.

To end her breakthrough 2021 season, Raducanu made it to the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open but crashed out in the first round in both Indian Wells and Linz.

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She started her first full year on the tour with a 6-0 6-1 loss to Elena Rybakina in Sydney but bounced back at the Australian Open, getting an impressive win over former world No 3 and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round.

But she has been hit with injuries since, suffering blistering in her second-round defeat to Danka Kovinic which was so severe that her team didn’t want her to set foot on court.

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Raducanu then returned a month later in Guadalajara but had to retire mid-way through the third set against Daria Saville in what was the longest WTA match of the year so far, suffering a hip injury.

She then withdrew from this week’s Monterrey Open with a left leg injury and is fighting to be fit in time for Indian Wells next week