Emma Raducanu hails Serena Williams as 'greatest of all time'

Emma Raducanu hails ‘inspirational’ Serena Williams as ‘the greatest of all time’ after defeating US tennis star who refused to stay for post-match interview and failed to show for press conference

  • Raducanu told crowd ‘I think we need to honour Serena and her amazing career’
  • Williams, who has 23 career titles, announced retirement from tennis last week 
  • It’s a major victory for 10th-seeded Brit, who has recently struggled with injury

Emma Raducanu hailed Serena Williams as ‘the greatest of all time’ after beating her 6-4 6-0 in their first and likely last encounter – but the American didn’t stick around to hear her words after making a quick departure from the court.

Williams, 40, stayed on court for a rare loser’s interview after her defeat in straight sets to Belinda Bencic in Canada last week, a day after announcing her retirement. 

But on this occasion she made a quick exit, despite organisers in Cincinnati lining up champagne for an on-court ceremony. She also chose not to attend the press conference afterwards. 

Raducanu, 19, told the interviewer: ‘I think we all need to just honour Serena and her amazing career. I’m so grateful for the experience of being able to play her and for our careers to cross over.

‘Everything that she’s achieved is so inspirational and it was a true honour to share the court with her. ‘Tonight was a match in my eyes, to be able to play the greatest of all time – who knows how many more opportunities we will get to share the court.’ 

Raducanu paid tribute to Williams after the match and said it was an honour to play her

The 40-year-old made a quick departure from the court after a ruthless Raducanu defeated her

Raducanu hit just one unforced error in her victory over Williams and intends to take all the momentum she can into her next match against another WTA Tour veteran in Victoria Azarenka. 

‘I think it’s important to really cherish the wins, because I think that if anything, this year has taught me that the wins don’t come by easily,’ said Raducanu, who has struggled with blisters on her hands.

‘No matter what win that is, it means a lot to any athlete, and I definitely am going to take it in, be really proud of myself.’

Raducanu added: ‘It is a fast turnover tomorrow, and I probably have got 12 hours until I’m back on site. I’m playing another slam champion, so it’s obviously going to be really difficult. Just going to try to prepare as best as possible.’ 

Williams struggled to find consistency in just her fourth match of the season, giving up 12 unforced errors while making just 11 winners in the first round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, the 10th-seeded Brit settled into her rhythm early, breaking the 23-time major champion twice in the opening set before racing away in the second to claim her 12th win of the season.

The young Brit beat Williams 6-4 6-0 in their first and likely last on-court encounter 

Raducanu applauded her opponent off court after a commanding victory in Cincinnati 

Belarusian former world number one Azarenka overcame Kaia Kanepi in the opening round.

Looking ahead to the match, Raducanu said: ‘I remember more recently when she was playing in the US Open and made the final in 2020 during the bubble, I was studying for my exams.

‘I hadn’t played tennis in like two, three months, and I was kind of just dreaming that one day I’m going to play on Ashe (Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows), and one day I’m going to be at that level and playing these great players myself. Everything felt so far away.’

The young Brit acknowledges fans as she walks out onto court to face Williams 

Raducanu was in a buoyant mood in an interview after her victory, which follows plenty of injury struggles 

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