Emma Raducanu’s stunning rise from A Level student to US Open champion in three months

US Open champion Emma Raducanu ready to return to action at Indian Wells

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Emma Raducanu is gearing up to play her first match since her historic triumph at the US Open. The 18-year-old became the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam title and in a matter of months went from world No.338 to world No.21, becoming an overnight sensation in the process. The Bromley local is now one of the most prolific names in the tennis world, and has arrived in Indian Wells for her hotly anticipated first tournament after her unprecedented run, this time arriving as a top seed and one of the women to beat.

Raducanu has had a whirlwind few weeks since winning the US Open, attending the Met Gala in New York and the James Bond premiere in London, as well as playing with Kate Middleton at an LTA event and partying during London Fashion Week.

The huge levels of superstardom come with a whole new world for the 18-year-old, who just this summer was taking her A Level exams like any other British teenager.

She is now preparing to take to the match court for the first time since her historic title run at the US Open, as she faces world No.100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the Indian Wells second round, having received a bye as one of the top seeds.

Ahead of her match against the Belarusian, Express Sport looked back at her remarkable three-month rise from A Level student ranked outside the world’s top 300 to Grand Slam champion, world No.21 and household name.

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Raducanu attended Newstead Wood, a selective girls’ grammar school in her hometown of Bromley – the same school attended by the likes of Olympic champion Dina Asher-Smith and acclaimed actress Gemma Chan.

The recent US Open champion sat her A Levels in maths and economics earlier this summer, part of the cohort of British teenagers completing Sixth Form during the uncertainty of the pandemic, and even sent a tweet out back in January asking: “So are A Levels happening?”

Amid exam season, Raducanu was also preparing for the grass-court season, a favourite part of the tennis calendar for any Brit, and received a wild card into her first-ever WTA Tour-level event, at the Nottingham 250.

The 18-year-old lost in the first round to compatriot Harriet Dart but continued to impress in the lower-level events, reaching the quarter-final of the Great Britain ITF 01A after beating Storm Sanders and seventh seed Timea Babos, and earned herself a last-minute wild card into the Wimbledon main draw.

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Then ranked outside the world’s top 300, Raducanu made her Grand Slam debut on the grass courts of the All England Club and proved she was more than worthy of her wild card, storming into the fourth round without dropping a set, beating the likes of 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova en route.

She then retired while a set-and-a-break down to Ajla Tomljanovic in the fourth round, struggling with breathing difficulties, but her fairy-tale run saw her rise to world No.179 and become the youngest British woman in the Open Era to make the last-16 at Wimbledon.

During her whirlwind success on one of tennis’ biggest stages, Raducanu was still awaiting her A Level results, while her school sent out a newsletter celebrating their student, writing: “Knowing her well, I’m sure Y13 will join me in saying that the intelligent, composed and chatty person you saw in the TV interviews is the same Emma that we know from the school corridors.”

Off the back of her Wimbledon success, the current world No.21 then received a wild card into the San Jose WTA 250 – her first tour-level event outside of her home country – but lost in the opening-round to Zhang Shuai and shortly after, parted ways with her coach through Wimbledon, Nigel Sears, re-uniting with LTA youth coach Andrew Richardson.

Raducanu then went on to make the quarter-final of the ITF USA 16A before receiving another wild card for a WTA 125k Challenger event in Chicago, and made it all the way to the final, leaving at a new career high of world No.150.

The Bromley teenager also received a phone call from her parents during her North American hard-court season, informing her she had received an A* in maths and an A in economics, as she prepared to qualify for her second Grand Slam main draw in New York.

What happened next was something that had never previously been accomplished in the sport, as Raducanu came through three qualifying matches and seven main-draw matches without dropping a set, to become the US Open champion, the first qualifier ever to win a Major and the first woman to win a Grand Slam on just her second attempt.

She’s now not only one of the biggest names in tennis, but one of the biggest names in the sporting world, and her popularity is clear as she has amassed over two million Instagram followers, after having started the US Open on around 400,000.

Amid the red-carpet events, royal meetings and ambassador signings with brands like Tiffany & Co, Britain’s latest Grand Slam champion remains humble as she heads into her next tournament, having admitted that her favourite memory from the past few weeks was still the night she won the trophy and celebrated with her team.

She will now face former world No.30 Sasnovich in her opening match in Indian Wells on Friday (October 8) – her first since the US Open – and could meet her idol, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep in the third round if both players can win their second-round matches.
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