Wimbledon: Emma Raducanu faces toughest draw - but says 'so be it' if she can't match US Open win

·3 min read

You cannot escape the Emma Raducanu effect as Wimbledon gets underway this year.

All eyes will be on her today when she steps out on Centre Court for the first time, but there are plenty of other British players playing the grass court tennis of their lives in the run-up to this year's tournament, fuelling the hope that the usual first week headlines will not be needed this time.

None of the 17 Brits have been drawn against a seeded player in the first round (although the three seeds wouldn't have been anyway) - still, they've all beaten the odds there.

Arguably it is Britain's highest ranked player, Emma Raducanu, who has the toughest draw.

The US Open Champion could have been a bit luckier than to get Belgium's in-form Alyson Van Uytvanck, who says grass is her favourite surface and has previous on the courts of the All England.

While Raducanu's advisors have tried to keep her away from the spotlight as much as possible in the Wimbledon build-up, the expectation from the British public will be still be there - after all this is where it all began for her only 12 months ago.

Her barnstorming run to the last 16 from 'nowhere' in her first ever Grand Slam made her a household name overnight and her incredible and unlikely triumph at the US Open a few weeks later made the Kent school girl a global icon and a sporting superstar.

A lifetime's ambition and a lifetime's earnings all achieved in the space of a couple of months. It's hardly surprising it's been a challenging year since.

Eight wins and 11 losses over past year

Her first full year on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour so far reads eight wins and 11 losses, with those losses being scrutinised more than they would have been had she not become so famous so quickly.

Her meteoric rise meant missing out on the building blocks which would have prepared her bit by bit for full time competition at the highest level.

Assumptions have been made that the defeats could be blamed on doing too much commercial stuff away from the tennis court; that she must be distracted by the servicing of nine blue chip sponsors, such as Dior and Tiffany and that she must be doing photoshoots left, right and centre.

But in a rare interview this week her manager Max Eisenbud, formerly agent to Maria Sharapova, was keen to point out that sponsor days are limited to just 18 a year and "having sat in on one of these filming sessions (for Evian) myself I can say it was all done with military precision - the entire shoot, including my 10-minute interview, was all wrapped up within 48 minutes".

Dealing with the spotlight, scrutiny, patchy results, global stardom, and add to that a side strain in the Wimbledon build up, it hasn't been easy for the 19-year-old. We sometimes forget that a year ago, all she had to stress about was her maths A-level result.

But Emma says she puts no pressure on herself and while the disrupted build-up is not ideal, if she can't match last year so be it - it will all go down as part of the process.

Murray insisting he's in it to win it

And of course, let's not forget Andy Murray and his metal hip.

He had some excellent wins in Stuttgart, where he reached the final, only to be beaten by the Queen's champion Matteo Berrettini.

A stomach niggle has interrupted his preparation for Wimbledon, but we saw him in practice yesterday and he's looking fit and insisting he's in it to win it.

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