Wimbledon wildcard star Emma Raducanu to play Australian ‘superbrat’ – but not on Centre Court

Her explosion on to the world tennis scene has captivated a sporting nation as this year’s against-the-odds Wimbledon fairytale.

However, the history-making exploits of Emma Raducanu – the first British teenager to reach the last 16 since 1959 – appear yet to fully convince schedulers.

The 18-year-old’s latest showdown, against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, has been denied Centre Court billing to the likely frustration of 7,500 who have pre-bought tickets.

Instead, the new darling of British sport and her opponent, whose last match was overshadowed by an ugly spat, gets second billing on Court 1. 

Last night the decision was described as "a shame" by 1959 French Open winner Christine Truman, the previous Briton to reach the second week at SW19 while still a teenager.

Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia in action against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia

Credit: Shutterstock

"Nothing will be too much for Emma," she says in an interview in today’s Daily Telegraph.

"She is bouncing around – you want to give her everything while she is on this successful roll. She would love it (on Centre Court), and that crowd would love it."

While another teen in Coco Gauff gets the prized Centre Court slot, those on Court 1 will relish the prospect of Raducanu battling it out for £300,000 last-16 winnings just two months after completing her A-level exams.

She has already guaranteed herself £181,0000, and promised to take her family and coaching team out for a big meal to celebrate.

‘Incredible maturity’

Rob Mills, a sports brand guru of the Turnstile Group, told The Telegraph last night that she could eventually be in the top three earners in women’s tennis worldwide if she is able to sustain her current form for the next three years.

"It’s obviously very early days – but there will definitely be a lot of corporate partners looking to make assessments about how  that continues," he said.

"Playing the way she does and  being from a market like the UK, she could be top three or four potential earners if she can keep that up.

"She seems to have an incredible maturity – you put that tennis ability together with that maturity, Her then coming out of UK, she could be in that sort of top three bracket within four to five years."

In her opening week of Wimbledon, Raducanu, who attended the same Bromley school as Olympic sprint hope Dina Asher-Smith, won plaudits for her down-to-earth style.

She picked up her own litter after one match and, after seeing off world number 45 Sorana Cirstea on Saturday, remarked that she would need to launder her kit as her parents had discouraged her from packing too much.

‘Zero respect’

Tomljanovic, in contrast, had been accused by former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of "terrible, terrible" behaviour during her last match. Ostapenko, a divisive figure in the sport, had launched the spat with Tomljanovic as they shook hands at the net after the Australian’s three-set win.

"You’re the one to talk!" Tomljanovic countered, as she went to collect her bags.

"You have zero respect," Ostapenko fumed. "The worst player on the tour!"

It all came down to a medical timeout. Tomljanovic had recovered from a first set deficit to push the third-round tie to a decider and then proceeded to go two breaks up.

At 4-0 down though, Ostapenko called the trainer on court, which Tomljanovic was irate about.

There are hopes that Tomljanovic is more likely than her British wildcard opponent is more likely to choke this afternoon. 

The Australian’s career has been one hampered by injury, including a serious shoulder issue keeping her off the tour between 2016 and 2017.

A former top 40 player, the 28-year-old is now ranked 75th as she heads to only her second ever fourth round at a major with Raducanu her opponent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *