Britain’s teenage U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu lived up to her star billing on her first appearance on Wimbledon’s Centre Court by beating in-form Belgian Alison van Uytvanck 6-4 6-4 in the first round on Monday.
Uytvanck, who won two grasscourt events in her preparation, was by no means a first-round patsy but Raducanu overcame some early waywardness to work out how to deal with her awkward opponent in a way that belied her limited experience
A year ago Raducanu reached the fourth round as an unknown wildcard before going on to win the U.S. Open against impossible odds, but this time the 10th seed carried the hopes of a nation who have not seen a home women’s champion since Virginia Wade in 1977.
Despite an injury-ravaged build-up that left her participation in doubt until a few days ago, Raducanu took the first set against the dangerous Belgian who had warmed up with two second-tier tournament victories on grass.
In a match low on consistent quality but with moments of drama, it was Raducanu who tightened the screw, finding her confidence and range to break for a 5-4 lead before serving out strongly to give the home fans the victory they so desperately craved.
Raducanu certainly seemed to enjoy her first taste of Centre Court, saying she loved the energy of the venue she described as the most special in the sport.
"Big matches and big occasions are the ones that I really sort of get the most fired up for," she said. "It's definitely a different feeling. I love playing on the big stages, I really thrive on that."
Latest on Sportstar
- Formula 1: Perez need not put pressure on himself, says Horner
- WI vs UAE: King rules with maiden ton as West Indies wins by 7 wickets in series opener
- Formula 1: Mercedes fined 10,000 euros over physio breach
- Ibrahimović: It’s time to say goodbye to soccer
- Gabe Vincent helps Heat beat Nuggets, level NBA Finals at 1-1