Emma Raducanu: How winning Sussex tennis tournament set British star on road to becoming US Open champion

Winning a tournament in Sussex may well have been a key step in US Open tennis champion Emma Raducanu’s rise to the top of the sport.

Sunday, 12th September 2021, 12:59 am
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 11:42 am
Emma Raducanu celebrates her US Open Ladies singles semi-final success. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

The British ace, 18, beat Canada’s Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in the US Open women’s singles final last night (Saturday, September 11) in New York.

It was just her second major tournament, having made her grand-slam debut at Wimbledon in July.

But Raducanu was making waves on the tennis circuit long before she became a household name – and a Sussex event was perhaps a key part of her journey.

The LTA’s website lists a tournament held at West Worthing Tennis & Squash Club, when Raducanu was 12, as one of her notable achievements.

It said: “One of the highlights for Raducanu in 2015 was the chance to play at Wimbledon, winning through the South East regional qualifiers to earn a place in the Road to Wimbledon national finals on the famous courts of the All England Club.

“By this stage Raducanu was firmly established as one of the best players in her age group and regularly attended LTA national junior camps at the National Tennis Centre.”

Six years later, in July this year, Raducanu burst onto the scene in her debut grand slam, by reaching the fourth round of the Wimbledon women’s singles.

Now, she is the US Open champion – making her the first British women’s grand slam winner since Virginia Wade in 1977.

West Worthing Tennis & Squash Club chairman William Naunton said: “We can confirm that Emma Raducanu played in the South East Regional Qualifier in the LTA Road to Wimbledon tournament at West Worthing Club over a weekend in late June of 2015.

“The grass court competition, which is held each year at West Worthing club, gives aspiring young tennis players, aged 14 and under, the opportunity to compete for a place in the national finals which take place at the All England Club, Wimbledon.

“The West Worthing Road to Wimbledon Qualifier, held in 2015, saw Emma Raducanu qualify, quite comfortably, for the Road to Wimbledon Finals which were played in August later that year. The finals would have been Emma’s very first experience of playing at Wimbledon.”

The club, established in 1886, is no stranger to success.

Its extensive junior and adult tennis coaching programme, delivered at its base in Titnore Way and at Homefield Park, has regularly seen top players develop their game to national and international level.

These include Worthing’s Lui Maxted, who competed in this year’s Junior Wimbledon and who has a career-high ITF junior world ranking of 27.

Wheelchair tennis player Lauren Jones, who was a world-top-25 women’s wheelchair player, also developed her career in tennis through coaching at West Worthing.

To find out more about the club, click here.