How Emma Raducanu's US Open success could make her the world's richest sportswoman with £100m

WHEN she aced Wimbledon on her grand slam debut in the summer, only to quit a gruelling last-16 match with breathing difficulties, some asked questions about her staying power.

British teen tennis sensation Emma Raducanu’s answer at the current US Open, under the bright lights of New York, has smashed that right out of the showcase Arthur Ashe Stadium — the sport’s biggest, most highly charged arena of battle.

Now the young gun with the mega-watt smile, who does not turn 19 until November, is on track to become the highest-earning British female sports star EVER — guided by the man who helped Russia tennis smasher Maria Sharapova make her millions.

Emma bagged her place in the US Open final, after a 6-1 6-4 semi-final victory against Maria Sakkari from Greece.

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Emma’s super-star qualities — oh, also an A* grade in her recent maths A level and A in economics — are already established and have sponsors queuing up.


Former British tennis ace Annabel Croft, now a TV pundit, reckons the girl from Bromley, South London, has a “special aura”, and added: “She’s a marketing dream. She’s got an X Factor. It feels like when Andy Murray burst on to the scene.”

Agent Jonathan Shalit, chair-man of InterTalent, which has landed deals for Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and singer and TV host Myleene Klass, said: “Emma is a phenomenon. She will be the highest-earning female UK sports star ever.


“If the trajectory Emma is on continues, she will earn well over £100million.”

While Emma has banked almost £1m for reaching the final — after winning three qualifier matches to make the main draw, as the lowly world No150 — Jonathan knows her serious wads will be made off court.

He said: “Leisurewear, sports, health, fitness and lifestyle brands will be knocking down her door. For brands, she is unique. There is no one like her.”

She is already managed by Max Eisenbud, vice-president of tennis at entertainment giant IMG and one of the most powerful agents in sport.

His negotiations for former world No1 Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004, helped her earn £234million on and off court by the time she retired last year, according to Forbes.

Sharapova, now 34, was the business magazine’s top-paid female athlete for 11 years straight and had deals with Land Rover, Tag Heuer watches, Pepsi, Sony, Motorola and Canon.

Swiss maestro Roger Federer, still swinging at 40 but missing the US Open ahead of knee surgery, has netted £93million prize money yet that is dwarfed by his endorsements over the years with the likes of Mercedes and fashion brand Uniqlo.

Back to Brit Emma, Annabel Croft told The Sun: “There is no limit to what she will be offered now. She’s a marketing dream. It’s about a special aura some people have.

“Federer has it, he oozes charm and connects with the public, and Emma has it.”

One brand agency rated her smile alone worth £3million in sponsor-ship after this summer’s Wimbledon, where she gained entry as a wild card and became the youngest Brit ever in the final 16.

She already has a clothing and shoe deal with Nike and racquet tie-up from Wilson, plus 530,000 Instagram followers and she appears in the current edition of Vogue magazine.


Before Wimbledon, she was ranked 338th in the world, with career earnings just under £30,000.

But after her fairytale in New York she could move inside the top 50 in the world for reaching the final.

Come Monday, she is also nailed on as the new British ladies No1, ahead of fans’ favourite Jo Konta.

Her heroics are all the more impressive after she hit the wall in her Wimbledon clash with Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic and had to bow out. She later put that down to “accumulation of the excitement.”

Annabel said: “She’s learned from that. If anything, that’s been a help. When you come through adversity, that makes you stronger and that’s what we’re seeing.”

Having staked her claim to the tennis major league, the world as at Emma’s Nike-sponsored feet.

Annabel added: “She’s riding a wave. She can do so much more. Emma’s a different type of player to two-time Wimbledon champ Andy Murray but has the same strength of character.

“Wherever she goes, she’s going to be in demand. It’s really exciting seeing someone at the very beginning, who may well go on to have one of the most special tennis careers.”

Yet more remarkable, Emma has not dropped a single set going into her semi-final, after scorching through qualifying then five main-draw shootouts.

In her quarter-final she beat this summer’s Olympic gold medallist, Swiss world No11 Belinda Bencic, to become the first British woman to make the US Open semis since Jo Durie in 1983.

Jo, 61, said: “Emma’s just tremen-dous. She’s got a super attitude and works so hard. She has relished the atmosphere in New York. It’s noisy, a bit different to Wimbledon, but she has risen to it and used that crowd energy.

"Six months ago most people hadn’t heard of Emma. We all knew in tennis that she was good, you could see it a mile off. Now everyone is talking about her. She will be overwhelmed if not careful, but she has a good team and hopefully can handle it.”

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Other big tennis names also think Emma is destined for the top.

German great Boris Becker, 53, who like Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17, called her “the real thing.”

Our last Wimbledon ladies champ Virginia Wade, 76, who triumphed in 1977, said: “She ticks all the boxes.”

Former Brit ace Andrew Castle, now a commentator, called Emma a “commercial dream,” adding: “Her life is going to change in ways she can’t imagine.”

Yet Emma already transcends tennis, counting among her celebrity fans England footballer Marcus Rashford and astronaut Tim Peake, rocker Liam Gallagher and Prince William and wife Kate.

She was born in 2002 in Toronto, Canada, to Chinese mum Renee and Romanian dad Ian, who both work in finance. The family moved to the UK when she was two.


She visits her Romanian gran, Mamiya, in Bucharest a few times a year and is “quite capable” in Mandarin thanks to her mum.

But neither Mum nor Dad was courtside for Emma’s semi. She had feared she would not make even the main draw, so booked flights home, and her surprise success has meant her parents have not yet been able sort their travel under US Covid rules.

But it was clear her future lay on court. She won her first inter-national under-18 trophy at age 12, in Liverpool in 2015. Three years later she made the Wimbledon girls’ quarter-finals.

Emma was five when she first picked up a racquet but her dad encouraged her to try all sorts, from ballet to tap-dancing, skiing and golf. She also liked to battle lads in go-karting and motocross.

She said: “One time my moto-cross teacher was like, ‘We’re going to do press-ups’. I was the only one who could do it, so I was proud.”

Before her full Wimbledon debut Emma also smashed her A levels at Newstead Wood School, a girls’ grammar in Orpington, South East London.

Head Alan Blount said: “Emma’s amazing, so nice and smiley. She missed some time at school for tournaments but always caught up. She was so focused.”

She has returned to her former primary school to inspire the next generation — and agent Jonathan added: “I am sure huge numbers of girls are on courts dreaming they could be the next Emma.”

Although she describes herself as having been shy at school, she is not short of self-belief.

She told fashion bible Vogue: “My mum comes from a Chinese background, they have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily telling everyone how good you are, it’s believing it.”

Off duty she likes “binge-watching Taiwanese shows”, idolises basketball legend Michael Jordan and loves Formula 1. She also plans to get her motorbike licence next.

The world, however, might have other plans for her.

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