Sports stars Gary Lineker, Andy Murray and Marcus Rashford have defended Emma Raducanu over her Wimbledon exit after a row was ignited over the teenager’s ‘mental toughness’.
The 18-year-old tennis player was forced to retire mid-match during the second set of her Wimbledon clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović last night after she began to suffer from breathing difficulties.
Her withdrawal from the tournament saw tennis legend John McEnroe suggest that ‘it got a bit too much’ for the 18-year-old sensation and that she buckled under the pressure.
His views were later echoed by the former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan on Twitter who wrote: ‘McEnroe told the truth. Ms Raducanu’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly.
‘Not ”brave”, just a shame. If I were her, I’d tell my fans to stop abusing McEnroe, & seek his advice on how to toughen up & become a champion like he was.’
The 18-year-old tennis player Emma Raducanu was forced to retire mid-match during the second set of her Wimbledon clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović last night
He added: ‘Mental strength and resilience are not dirty words. They’re good things that need to be taught, nurtured, encouraged and celebrated from school onwards.
‘This would be immeasurably easier if so many high profile people stopped playing the victim.’
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen added: ‘Talent is one thing, but mental toughness is what separates the good from the great in sport! Dealing with pressure, bad form, negative media etc is HARD, but that’s sport. It’s demanding. Deal with it, or someone else will deal with it in your place!’
Leaping to the tennis star’s defence today, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray slammed the comments made by the pair and said it was a ‘very harsh take on the situation’.
He wrote: ‘No question mental toughness can be what separates the best in sport but surely both of you aren’t judging her mental toughness on yesterday’s match?!’
Meanwhile Match of the Day host Gary Lineker said: ‘Happens to the best of us, even those that aren’t suffering from a possible injury or illness.’
The former England striker went on to take a dig at Mr Morgan by sharing a picture of him walking off the set of Good Morning Britain.
Also rallying around the tennis star was England footballer Marcus Rashford who wrote on Twitter: ‘It happened to me playing for the national team in U16s against Wales. I remember it to this day.
‘No explanation for it and it never happened again. You should be very proud of yourself. The country is proud of you. Glad to read you’re feeling better. Onwards and upwards.’
Former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter that Ms Raducanu was a ‘talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure’
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen added that ‘talent is one thing, but mental toughness is what separates the good from the great in sport’
As the row continued Mr Pietersen later claimed his tweet had not been in reference to Raducanu’s exit.
He said: ‘Just for clarity, I was merely responding to a single tweet that had no reference to tennis at all. None whatsoever.
‘So I actually had no clue about the context. I was on a golf course yesterday and was celebrating my best ever round of golf last night. So please relax?’
Earlier today, Raducanu broke her silence after her dramatic exit from Wimbledon and revealed that she ‘started breathing heavily and felt sick’.
The 18-year-old, who had to bow out of the fourth round, revealed that after ‘some super intense rallies’ she ‘started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy’ and was advised by her medical team not to continue.
She went on to describe how it ‘felt like the hardest thing in the world not to be able to finish my Wimbledon on the court’ but vowed to ‘come back stronger’.
In a heartwarming message on Twitter she wrote: ‘Hi guys, I wanted to let everyone know that I’m feeling much better this morning. First up I want to congratulate Ajla on an incredible performance and I’m sorry our match ended the way it did.
‘I was playing the best tennis of my life in front of an amazing crowd this week and I think the whole experience caught up with me. At the end of the first set, after some super intense rallies, I started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy.
‘The medical team advised me not to continue and, although it felt like the hardest thing in the world not to be able to finish my Wimbledon on the court, I was not well enough to carry on.
‘I want to thank the people who have cheered me on every single match, I wanted to win so badly for you! I also want to thank the All England CLub, my team, the LTA, my parents and friends.
‘Last night will go a long way to helping me learn what it takes to perform at the top. I will cherish everything we have achieved together this week and come back stronger. Can’t wait to see what’s next on my journey.’
Leaping to the tennis star’s defence today, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray slammed the comments
Former England striker Gary Lineker said moments like those experienced by Raducanu ‘happen to the best of us’
England football star Marcus Rashford told Raducanu she had made the country proud
As the row continued Mr Pietersen later claimed his tweet had not been in reference to Raducanu’s exit
During an interview with the BBC, where the star was seen sporting an England football shirt, she said: ‘I’m doing well thank you for asking.
‘I’m feeling a lot better this morning so I’m just glad to have recovered this quickly.
‘I think in the moment on Court One the atmosphere was once again incredible to play in front of, I’m obviously very disappointed to not finish the match.
‘I really really wanted to compete and try my best but the medical advice was to pull out and yes I followed it because I think their advice was the best in the end.
‘I found it very difficult to regulate my breathing. It was emphasised by some very long rallies that we had towards the end of the first set which made it tough for me to keep my composure and the breathing in check.
‘And then at the beginning of the second set was when I struggled with it the most and I called the trainer on and made the decision at the end of the changeover.
‘I don’t know what caused it. I think it was a combination of everything that has gone on behind the scenes in the last week and an accumulation of the excitement, the buzz, and I think it’s a great learning experience for me going forward, it’s a great step forward.
‘Now next time hopefully I will be better prepared.’
The 18-year-old revealed that after ‘some super intense rallies’ she ‘started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy’ and was advised by her medical team not to continue
Speaking to the BBC today, Raducanu said she ‘found it very difficult to regulate her breathing’ during the match
It comes after her former coach said she will put her Wimbledon disappointment behind and bounce back stronger than ever.
EMMA RADUCANU’S TWEET IN FULL
Hi guys, I wanted to let everyone know that I’m feeling much better this morning. First up I want to congratulate Ajla on an incredible performance and I’m sorry our match ended the way it did.
I was playing the best tennis of my life in front of an amazing crowd this week and I think the whole experience caught up with me. At the end of the first set, after some super intense rallies, I started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy.
The medical team advised me not to continue and, although it felt like the hardest thing in the world not to be able to finish my Wimbledon on the court, I was not well enough to carry on.
I want to thank the people who have cheered me on every single match, I wanted to win so badly for you! I also want to thank the All England CLub, my team, the LTA, my parents and friends.
Last night will go a long way to helping me learn what it takes to perform at the top. I will cherish everything we have achieved together this week and come back stronger. Can’t wait to see what’s next on my journey.
Clint Harris, who watched yesterday’s match with her family, said the setback was merely a ‘side-step’ and she would learn from it.
Meanwhile her father said last night he and ‘many people’ were ‘proud’ of the young ace after she was forced to bow out of Wimbledon following ‘breathing difficulties’.
The 18-year-old star’s fairy-tale run came to an end when she retired mid-match during the second set of her Wimbledon clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.
It was later revealed the Bromley teenager had suffered issues with her breathing during the match. But her father, Ian Raducanu, later suggested that the competitiveness of the tournament may have been a factor.
Raducanu revealed that prior to her Court One appearance, she had only played in front of about 100 people, as she dubbed her Wimbledon experience ‘the best week of my life’.
She added: ‘I think it was a new experience playing under the roof with the lights.
‘It was definitely louder, it was a bit hotter. So just to settle in at the beginning, I think both of us had a bit of a nervy start but I think we started to play our way in.
‘And there was a close game, four all, I had a couple of break points. Once again the crowd was amazing. They were completely behind me and I’m so so grateful.
The player went on: ‘I’ve had the best time of my life. This whole week has just been absolutely incredible. I’ve never felt support like it.
‘I’m just so so grateful for every single person who cheered me on during the matches and all of the messages I have received via social media.
‘I just would just like to thank absolutely everyone who got in touch and supported me in the last week.’
Ranked 338th in the world at the start of the tournament, Raducanu, who only recently completed her A-level exams, exceeded expectations as she became the youngest British female to make it into the second week at Wimbledon since Christine Truman in 1959.
Canadian-born Raducanu, who last week became the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 since 1959, was taken off court requiring medical treatment after losing the first set 6-4 to Tomljanovic before retiring 3-0 down.
She was seen clutching her stomach during the second set before quitting the tournament to the shock of her fans inside and outside No1 Court.
Raducanu had become the nation’s last hope of success at Wimbledon after British superstar Sir Andy Murray crashed out last week.
Yesterday, US tennis legend John McEnroe suggested ‘it got a bit too much’ for Raducanu after he told presenter Clare Balding that she buckled under the pressure and got ’emotional’.
McEnroe said: ‘I feel bad for Emma, I mean obviously it got – it appears it got a bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about for the last six weeks.
‘How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long, how well they can handle it.
‘These guys that can keep their composure and the girls out there are absolutely amazing – so we have to appreciate the players that are able to do it so well and hopefully she will learn from this experience.’
Yesterday, US tennis legend John McEnroe suggested ‘it got a bit too much’ for Raducanu
Sitting beside McEnroe, ex-British No1 Annabel Croft said: ‘I think she will cope with it very well, and I think it’s about not reading anything, not looking too much at your phone.
‘I hear (Rafael) Nadal talking about it time and time again when he refers to youngsters coming through.
‘He always says… it’s about the team keeping her feet on the ground and just working every day as she has since she was a little girl to try to be a better tennis player every day.’
Born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, Raducanu moved to Britain at the age of two and grew up in London. She first picked up a racquet aged five and played at Bromley Tennis Academy from the age of ten.
On her Instagram page, the rising star references her global roots listing London, where she lives now, Toronto, where she was born and the two cities where her parents are from Bucharest in Romania and Shenyang in China.
Her dual heritage remains important to her and she’s spoken fondly of relatives across the globe, saying: ‘My grandma, Mamiya, still lives in central Bucharest. I go back a couple times a year, stay with her, see her. It’s really nice. I love the food, to be honest.
‘I mean, the food is unbelievable. And my grandma’s cooking is also something special. I do have ties to Bucharest.’
Weeks ago, the teenager was sitting A-Levels in Economics and Maths at Newstead School in Orpington, Kent.
Raducanu has been described as a ‘model pupil’ by her teachers at the selective girls’ grammar school. She achieved three 9s, and four 8s in her GCSEs and is awaiting the results of her maths and economics A-levels.
Her PE teacher Sarah Eells, said it was ‘very emotional’ watching Raducanu ‘achieve her dream’ and that the teenager was a ‘role model and an inspiration’ to other pupils.