Emma Raducanu has had a sensational year on the tennis circuit, winning £2 million in prize money.
But the sport’s new golden girl is set to earn millions more off the court as brands queue up to sign her as a global ambassador.
Raducanu unveiled her latest endorsement on Tuesday, as the face of British Airways. The 19-year-old shared the news with her 2.1 million followers on Instagram, explaining: “The airline has already been part of a special time for me, flying me home from the US Open. I look forward to working with the iconic British brand on some exciting projects.”
In the accompanying images, she was dressed in Nike sportswear and Tiffany jewellery – two of the other brands she has a deal to endorse.
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Earlier this month, she became the face of Evian water. Raducanu also has a deal with Wilson racquets, and in October became the face of Dior, the luxury fashion house.
It is a fairytale for the teenager from Bromley, who collected her A-level results weeks after playing at Wimbledon.
Then, in September and still aged just 18, she made history by winning the US Open to become Britain’s first female Grand Slam champion since 1977 and the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title.
Brand experts said that British Airways would reap global benefits from its association with Raducanu – particularly in China. The teenager is of Chinese and Romanian heritage and speaks fluent Mandarin.
BA will fly Emma to tournaments around the world as she embarks on the next stage of her worldwide tennis career
“One of the characteristics that British Airways wants to amplify is that its roots are in Britishness, but it wants to appeal to an international audience,” said Marcel Knobil, founder of Superbrands and the Brand Council consultancy.
“Emma Raducanu has her heart in the UK but has international credentials. That’s a very strong association for BA.
“China is such an important audience, and one which many brands want to tap into. Emma will be a great conduit.”
In addition, Mr Knobil said, Raducanu’s winning personality was attractive to brands. “It would be very difficult at the moment to find an individual as popular as her. She has an aura of success and great future prospects.
Raducanu's endorsement deals
“It may seem as if she has exploded onto the scene from nowhere, but an enormous amount of work has gone into her career. She is so different from the hollow celebrities who are famous for being famous,” he said.
On Sunday, Raducanu was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, accepting her award from Dubai where she was self-isolating after testing positive for Covid.
She will next compete at the Australian Open in January, starting the year at number 19 in the world rankings.
Raducanu’s management team have picked her endorsements carefully, turning down many more offers than they have accepted.
Emma became the face of Evian water earlier this month
In sponsorship terms, she is still a minnow when compared to the likes of Serena Williams, who has a five-year, $40 million (£30 million) deal with Nike. Raducanu’s Nike deal was negotiated before her US Open win and was reported to be worth less than £100,000.
Judy Murray, the tennis coach and mother of Andy Murray, said earlier this week that Raducanu faced a steep learning curve in the year ahead.
Writing in The Telegraph, Murray said: “She is – quite rightly – tennis and marketing gold dust right now. At the start, that may be very exciting but over time, it’s likely to become very draining.
“It’s not so easy for a teenager to fit into the corporate world but sponsorship and endorsements come with obligations and personal appearances. And those all require your time and energy.”
In September, Emma was unveiled as the new ambassador for Tiffany & Co
British Airways said it was proud to have signed “the very best of British talent”, and will fly Raducanu and her team to sporting fixtures across the world.
Tom Stevens, BA director of brand and customer experience, said: “We couldn’t have been prouder as a nation than when Emma won the US Open.
“Sport has the power to inspire and unite people all across the globe, so we are delighted to be supporting Emma as she represents Britain and takes on the world.”