- All eyes will be on British number one Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon.
- Tim Henman has shared his advice as to how the teenager can cope with the pressure.
- “She’s really got to focus on the things that she can control,” he told Insider.
The former British number one tennis player Tim Henman has urged Emma Raducanu not to worry about the media and focus on the things “she can control” at Wimbledon.
Raducanu is Great Britain’s highest-ranked player at the tournament, and fans will be hoping she can reproduce the form that saw her win last year’s US Open.
But the 19-year-old has endured a problematic calendar year so far and has struggled with both form and injuries. The tennis star also split from three coaches since her victory at Flushing Meadows.
Heading into Wimbledon, speculation has been rife about the teenager and her future.
The Daily Mail reported Saturday that Raducanu could soon take a break from tennis to enroll at Cambridge University to study economics, while on Friday, Raducanu’s agent was forced to deny that her poor form had come as a result of her being distracted by “commercial interests.”
Raducanu recently signed a four-year partnership with HSBC and is also a brand ambassador for Evian, Tiffany, and Nike, among others.
Henman, 47, who was British number one for more than six years, knows all about the media attention that comes with being in the top spot.
Speaking with Insider, he shared his advice as to how Raducanu can cope over the next two weeks.
“She’s really got to focus on the things that she can control,” said Henman, who made it to the semifinals of Wimbledon four times.
“What’s been said on television, written in the newspapers, obviously, we did not have social media back in the day, but those are all things that she can not control. So why worry about them?
“When you think about the things that you can control as an athlete, it’s preparation and performance. During my career, I always felt that I just wanted to just concentrate on my practice, my training, and the matches themselves. Everything else I could ‘t control, so I did not worry about it. “
Since winning the US Open in September, Raducanu has struggled with a variety of different injuries that have seen her withdraw from several tour-level competitions.
In February, she pulled out of the Guadalajara Open with a hip injury before doing the same at May’s Italian Open due to a back strain.
This month, she also withdrew from both the Birmingham Classic and Eastbourne International after being hurt at the Nottingham Open, leading to speculation that she may not be fit to play at Wimbledon and concerns about her resilience to compete at the top level.
Henman, however, has urged people to be patient with the teenager as she becomes accustomed to the physical demands of the tour.
“What Emma has achieved in the last 12 months is incredible,” he said. “I think the challenge that everybody has in tennis is that there are three elements. There’s the technical side, there’s the mental side, and there’s the physical side.
“And for me, she’s an unbelievable tennis player – you can not achieve what she has without being a brilliant player. And the mentality side, the way she has been able to compete and play at the highest level has been so impressive.
“But the physical side, she needs time to build that resilience and the robustness. And she just hasn’t had that. And that’s the reason why she had these niggling injuries that have set her back at different times.”
Henman added: “A word that I often use around Emma is patience. Unfortunately, in the world that we live in people are not patient.
“They’ve seen her capabilities and they want that every day of the week, but that’s not reality. She’s just got to keep working hard and enjoy the process. There’s always going to be bumps in the road and you’ve got to learn to deal with that adversity. “
“But she will be, irrespective of what happens this year at Wimbledon, be around for a long, long time.”
World number 11 Raducanu faces Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday.
Insider’s interview with Henman was facilitated through the HSBC World of Opportunity program, which provides young adults with opportunities to learn about careers in sport through interactive workshops.