Emma Raducanu receives medical aid during the match against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic

Credit: Getty

Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon story ended in an unfortunate way on Monday night as the Briton retired injured from her fourth-round match with Australian Alja Tomljanovic after 75 minutes’ play. 

The 18-year-old, the youngest British woman to reach the second week at SW19 in the Open era, become an overnight sensation.

As the only British player in the fourth round, she was carrying an unaccustomed weight onto the grass with her.

But what caused her to retire, what was the reaction and what will she do next? 

Emma Raducanu appeared to hold her stomach during the match

Credit: AFP

What happened?

Raducanu seemed to be struggling physically and mentally with the intense battle. 

She called the trainer to the court while trailing Tomljanovic by a 6-4, 3-0 margin, and was told “nice slow breaths, that’s it” and was seen holding her stomach.

Covid protocols then required Raducanu to put on a face mask as she left the court, which was probably the last thing she wanted to do as she gasped for air. 

After a delay of around five minutes, the referee came out and chair umpire Aurelie Torte announced to the crowd that the match was over.

The end arrived abruptly and unexpectedly. It later emerged she had retired due to breathing difficulties. 

Emma Raducanu takes a moment during the match

Credit: AFP

What was said about her retirement?

John McEnroe was criticised on social media for jumping to the conclusion that Raducanu could not handle the occasion and comparing her withdrawal with Naomi Osaka’s mental health difficulties.

The three-time men’s champion said on the BBC: "I feel bad for Emma. It appears that it got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about these last six weeks with Naomi Osaka not even here. 

I didn’t realise John McEnroe was medically qualified or that he has X-ray vision! I hope Emma Raducanu is ok and wish her a speedy recovery. Did her country proud 🇬🇧

— Dr Alex (@DrAlexGeorge) July 5, 2021

"How much can players handle? Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.

"Maybe it’s not a shame that it happened right now, when she’s 18. I think, seeing this, expectations drop a little bit, allow her to take a couple of deep breaths."

Not happy with John McEnroe’s analysis on Raducanu there, evidently spent too much time at the bar. No clarity as to what happened injury wise, but he managed to slur his way to infer it was “anxiety induced” in a belittling manner. Wouldn’t happen if it was a male #Wimbledon

— Brad (@Brad3v) July 5, 2021

McEnroe also suggested the 18-year-old would not be deserving of an invitation to the US Open.

“Allow her to take some deep breaths and maybe get some wildcards,” he added. “She’ll probably get one for the Australian Open but I’m not sure about the US Open."

Her 28-year-old opponent also criticised McEnroe for his comments in a post-match interview. 

Emma's mother Renee after the match ended for medical reasons

"I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what was wrong with Emma. I’ll start with saying that I can’t imagine being in her shoes at 18, playing a fourth round in your home country," Tomljanovic said.

"For him to say that, it’s definitely harsh. I have experienced something similar but not to that extent. 

"I can’t imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out. Being down 6-4 3-0, you can come back from that quickly, especially on grass. It’s really sad that she had to do that."

What’s next for Raducanu?

The teenager is expected to release a statement today about her medical withdrawal from the match.

This whole experience was the steepest of learning curves, and as a high-powered student who is expected to return As or even A*s in her maths and economics A-levels, she will be well-placed to digest and analyse what went wrong over the coming weeks.

The 18-year-old is ranked 338th and received a wild-card invitation from the All England Club so she could make her Grand Slam debut and participate in only her second tour-level event. It is expected she will now get more wild-card invitations for upcoming events.

A new world of megabucks brand endorsements also beckons for the down-to-earth Bromley teenager whose career earnings before Wimbledon stood at £28,762.

British tennis’s new golden girl’s "smile alone" has been valued by marketeers at £3 million. 

Her long list of new business interests will be spearheaded by Max Eisenbud, one of sport’s most powerful super agents.

  • Raducanu’s three million reasons to smile
  • Q&A: what happened and what next
  • Oliver Brown: she deserved better than this sad ending
  • BBC’s McEnroe faces backlash for comments
  • Profile: British tennis’s next big thing 
  • Behind the story: Raducanu’s high-achieving school