Emma Raducanu says she is “ready to go” as she fine tunes her preparations before her first Wimbledon as a grand slam champion and the leading British women’s player.
“I’m very much looking forward to being back here at Wimbledon,” said Raducanu. “I think that it’s the most special place to be playing tennis. Just a very inspiring and motivating place to be. Definitely looking forward to stepping out on court on Monday. Yeah, ready to go.”
Raducanu will face the Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck in the second match on Centre Court on Monday, marking her first time on Wimbledon’s biggest court. Since the very first game of her opening match of the grass season, when Raducanu suffered a side strain that forced her to retire in Nottingham, the 19-year-old has been trying to recover.
“Definitely there were moments earlier in the week when we weren’t sure,” she said. “We were sort of going to see how the week goes. But it went pretty well. And, yeah, now it’s full steam ahead. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. Yeah, we’re all ready.”
After cancelling a practice session with Garbiñe Muguruza on Friday, Raducanu said she and her team “just had to react to the situation” and she noted that she had trained earlier: “We all collectively thought it was the best decision to pass on the afternoon session as well, and stay fresh and ready to go.”
Although her preparation has been dominated by injury speculation, Raducanu is returning one year on from her breakthrough run to the fourth round after receiving a late wildcard. “This year I get such a special feeling walking around the grounds,” she said. “I definitely feel that people are behind me. Even from some of the people working on the tournament, they’re like: ‘You got this.’ Just cheering me on. That’s pretty special in itself.”
As Raducanu prepares for her second Wimbledon, Serena Williams is unexpectedly back for her 21st after winning two doubles matches alongside Ons Jabeur in Eastbourne. Williams, who starts against the world No 113, Harmony Tan, will compete in singles for the first time since retiring in the first round last year.
Williams returned to competition in doubles only this past week in Eastbourne, partnering Jabeur as they won two matches and reached the semi-final before the latter withdrew. On Saturday Jabeur, the No 3 singles player, confirmed the withdrawal was precautionary.
In the time away, Williams has become extremely active with her venture capital company, Serena Ventures, in addition to her contribution to the King Richard movie about her father. Williams joked that she feels more like a venture capitalist who plays tennis.
“A part of me feels like that is a little bit more of my life now than tournaments,” said Williams. “When you do have a venture company, you do have to go all in. It definitely takes literally all my extra time. And it’s fun. I’m currently out of office for the next few weeks, so if you email me, you’ll get the nice ‘out of office’ reply. Everyone knows that I’ll be back in a few weeks.”
It remains to be seen exactly what shape Williams’s game will be in after so long but, asked what would constitute a successful tournament for her, the 23-times grand slam champion responded by raising her eyebrows: “You know the answer to that,” she said, smiling.
Fresh off her maiden grand slam final at the French Open earlier this month, Coco Gauff expressed her disapproval of the overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States, which previously protected the freedom of women to choose to have an abortion.
“I just think that history is repeating itself,” said Gauff. “I feel like, at least from my reading, researching, because I do like history, I just feel like just having this decision reversed, I feel like we’re almost going backwards. Not only does this decision kind of mark regarding reproductive rights, I feel like it also kind of puts a lead-way into maybe reversing other things that people in the past worked so hard to reverse.”