The BBC’s chief Wimbledon pundit John McEnroe told Emma Raducanu to “support the hype” after her making up for second-round defeat to Caroline Garcia on Wednesday†
Speaking on the BBC’s Highlights show Today at Wimbledon, McEnroe suggested that Raducanu couldn’t use inexperience as an excuse much longer. He also advised her to stop heeling and change her support team.
“Create a comfort zone with those around you,” McEnroe advised Raducanu, who came to Wimbledon with a city banker – Jane O’Donoghue – as her chief tennis adviser after going without a traditional head coach since April.
“I don’t know who they are” [the support staff] to be. She keeps switching teams as new coaches come in and out of the situation. That’s not a good thing. But she has to figure it out herself.
“She won the US Open. Some weakling won’t win the US Open. She is a great player. That’s how you should look at it, not ‘I’m inexperienced’. I don’t buy that part at all.
“She made it to the fourth round here last year. She knows Wimbledon is first-strike tennis [a reference to Raducanu’s own analysis of her grass-court performances]† I don’t mean to burst her bubble here, but I think she understands already. Give her some time. But these are things she should have learned already.”
Last year, McEnroe came under fire for his analysis of Raducanu’s breathing difficulties against Alja Tomljanovic. At the time, he suggested that the occasion had “just become a little too much” – a verdict which he recently defended and insisted that he would gladly offer it again?†
Here he once again questioned some of the reasons for Raducanu’s recent series of fitness problems. “How come she has blisters?” said McEnroe, amid the hand problem that surfaced at the Australian Open in January and the foot problem that plagued her at the Billie Jean King Cup in February. ‘I don’t understand that part.
“She won the US Open from qualifying. Of course, a lot is expected of that. I suppose nerves play a part in injuries. She is 19 years old. She must be able to deal with that very quickly. I hope great things will happen in the future, but you have to start believing. Support the hype!”
McEnroe’s punditry partner Kim Clijsters was a little less outspoken, but she also expressed concern about Raducanu’s volatile coaching set-up.
“I agree she needs to start working with a team that she can build with for years to come,” said Clijsters. †[There are] a few things to work on.”