EMMA RADUCANU returns to the UK court for the first time since Wimbledon at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday.
The 19-year-old star is also expected to miss the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award next month – but thinks mentor Lewis Hamilton would be a well-deserved winner if he lifts the F1 crown
Raducanu defeated fellow trainer Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3 7-6 in the Champions Tennis Exhibition.
It’s all the knockout stuff, the playful stuff, the pair trading the internet jokes, getting the kids playing ball back to serve at the iconic Victorian concert hall.
There was even a marriage proposal where a brave young male fan shouted in the first episode: ‘Emma, you will marry me.’
Raducanu, who completed her A-Level earlier this year, recently returned from a six-day holiday in the Caribbean, her first proper break in seven years.
This week, she will begin intense pre-season training under the guidance of new German coach Torben Beltz.
She joked: “I did a lot of exercise but not too much tennis, so I was nervous going out on the court in front of people.
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“It’s pretty weird. My birthday last year, I was at home, it was one course and I didn’t play.
“It’s amazing how things change in a year.
“It just shows that if you stay engrossed in your work, don’t look around, stay focused, anything is possible.”
The tennis star has been nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award but will miss the event – but Raducanu has revealed she will back mentor Lewis Hamilton as a well-deserved winner.
A shortlist of candidates for the coveted 68-year-old individual sports tournament is expected this week, and reigning US Open champion favorites to win in Salford on Sunday, December 19.
However, she won’t be in the country that weekend, staying in the UAE for training purposes after an exhibition clash in Abu Dhabi on December 16.
After a Christmas lunch in the desert with family and friends, the world number 19 will fly to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open on December 27.
It means potentially receiving any prize via satellite link – similar to what Andy Murray did at a pool in Miami when he was named SPOTY.
However, F1 madman Raducanu thinks Hamilton – who has mentored and advised her – will succeed in the public vote if he beats rival Max Verstappen for a record eighth driver’s title.
‘I CAN BE BETTER’
Talking about his plans for the Holiday Period, Raducanu said: “I know that playing tennis you will spend your birthdays, Christmas and New Year holidays away from home.
“I don’t see it as a sacrifice. I’m there to train, I’m there to get better, and then I’ll fly to Australia.
“The best thing for me is to stay in the Middle East instead of flying back and forth for seven hours.
“So I felt it wasn’t a sacrifice and was hoping my mom or dad could come out. One of my best friends lives in Dubai so I might as well meet her.
“The BBC Award is something beyond my ability to win. I’m cheering for Lewis in the race. “
Raducanu and Hamilton, 36, met at the glamorous Met Gala Ball in New York in September shortly after her incredible Slam win at Flushing Meadows on her professional debut.
They shared a negotiation conversation about the pitfalls and dangers of instant worldwide fame.
Bromley ace said: “Lewis is a good role model for me, in terms of just getting me through the next stages. He’s a really great person.
“Lewis has been really great at helping me out. He said: ‘Be patient. You just ride the wave. All is good. Do not worry. ‘
“It was a good reassurance. I looked up at him. Whenever we meet, it’s really great.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/tennis/16877352/emma-raducanu-us-open-tennis-2/ Emma Raducanu wins her first bout back in England and is claiming the right to Hamilton for SPOTY as she prepares to miss out on the accolades