News   |    September 13th, 2021

PRESS PRESSURE

I have lived in Bromley for some 40 years and some of the famous people who have lived there include Charles Darwin, Julie Andrews and David Bowie but last Saturday in New York we may well have witnessed a young 18-year-old Bromley resident start her journey to becoming the most famous of them all.

Emma Raducanu achieved the supposed impossible when she became the first qualifier ever in tennis to win a Grand Slam event when she was crowned the US Open Champion.  Not only did she win but she never dropped a single set in three weeks of matches. This achievement is on a par with a non-league team winning the FA Cup. It can’t happen, can it? Well Emma proved it can.

There are a few people like Piers Morgan (a journalist by trade) and John McEnroe who questioned her ability to compete at the elite level of sport when she was forced to withdraw at Wimbledon after suffering from breathing difficulties and instead of the trite social media comments Piers has come up with so far, he should simply use his platform to say ‘I was wrong and didn’t know what I was talking about. I apologise’.

Emma is a player who was unknown before Wimbledon. For many youngsters sitting your A Levels is stressful enough as she did prior to Wimbledon let alone competing at the level and in the cauldron she then did. Now she has won one of the greatest prizes in the sport and made her detractors eat their words.

This was no fluke. From the time she walked on to the court with a steely glare she played a brand of aggressive and flair laden tennis that belied her years. 

It is 44 years since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon and I remember watching her match against Betty Stove and it was as nerve racking as Emma last Saturday but with all due respect to Virginia the level of tennis from both Emma and Leylah Fernandez was for me on a whole different level.

Emma has so many of the qualities we all saw in Andy Murray at his peak and look what he achieved and, in an era, dominated by giants of the game like Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. 

Andy is one of our greatest ever sportsmen and yet the press couldn’t resist continually referring to a comment he made when he was 19 about the England football team which he intended as a joke. It is what the press often does with our sporting heroes. Recently after a very polished display by England against Poland in the World Cup Qualifier there was widespread press criticism of Gareth Southgate for his lack of the use of substitutes. Yet this is the best England team we have had for decades and the fact was England were in total control of the match.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the press and those in the public eye like Piers used their keyboards to encourage and support our sporting heroes not undermine them?

Image – PA Media

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management.

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