Martina Navratilova has hit out at fellow tennis great John McEnroe after he questioned at Wimbledon whether new US Open champion Emma Raducanu could mentally handle the pressure of the big stage.
Raducanu retired from her fourth-round match against Ajla Tomljanovic on Court One at SW19 in July on medical grounds.
She was seen holding her stomach on several occasions and appeared to be hyperventilating before retiring, and the following day revealed she had ‘breathing difficulties’ and that she thought ‘the whole experience caught up with me.’
Martina Navratilova has hit out at John McEnroe over his criticism of Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon
McEnroe (L) said in July playing in the last 16 ‘was a little too much for Raducanu’, but Navratilova (R) has fired back saying she has silenced her critics
She was seen clutching her stomach throughout the match against Ajla Tomljanovic in July
But her withdrawal received criticism from some quarters, including from tennis legend McEnroe, who suggested the 18-year-old found playing in the last 16 ‘a little too much’.
McEnroe however faced a backlash himself for suggesting Raducanu buckled under the pressure and got ’emotional’ at the All England Club earlier this year.
But Raducanu responded on the court in superb style just a couple of months later by becoming the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam after beating fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final in straight sets.
And Navratilova – who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles – believes that the 18-year-old Brit has ‘silenced her critics’, who will never ‘be talking anything about her mental fitness ever again’.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Navratilova said: ‘She has very much silenced those critics and I said that at the time ‘STFU’ because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
“Emma Raducanu just made history, [she’s the] first qualifier ever to win either a women’s or men’s major,” says tennis champion Martina Navratilova
“It’s ridiculous how well she has done”
https://t.co/u91qvTB3S3 #Marr pic.twitter.com/AWPDzhr6A6
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 12, 2021
Raducanu retired from her fourth-round Wimbledon match following breathing difficulties
She therefore had to withdraw following a medical timeout on court where she was assessed
‘She is a star in the making, this is just a hiccup. Little did I know what a small hiccup it really was in the grand scheme of things here. I don’t think those people will be talking anything about her mental fitness ever again.’
Raducanu became Britain’s first women’s Grand Slam singles champion since Virginia Wade’s success in 1977.
It was a superb US Open final, with Raducanu prevailing with a 6-4 6-3 success against fellow teenager Fernandez, of Canada.
Navratilova was full of praise for Raducanu and added that, while she can still improve, ‘there are no holes in her game’.
She said: ‘It’s ridiculous how well she has done.
McEnroe however insisted Raducanu buckled under the pressure and got ’emotional’
‘She just doesn’t get rattled. She is so switched on in every way and as I say she came out of the box all put together already, no batteries needed. She’s the whole package.’
‘There’s places where she can get better in her game, definitely, she’s 18, but there are no holes in her game and at 18 that is extraordinary so just impressive in every way.’
After retiring at Wimbledon following a medical timeout, McEnroe said: ‘I feel bad for Emma, I mean obviously it got – it appears it got a bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about for the last six weeks.
‘How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long, how well they can handle it.
But she has bounced back on court after beating Leylah Fernandez (L) in the US Open final
She won in straight sets to become the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam tournament
Eat your words John McEnroe! pic.twitter.com/8FEtf20XGU
— ®️I©️🇰y (@VividRicky) September 11, 2021
‘These guys that can keep their composure and the girls out there are absolutely amazing – so we have to appreciate the players that are able to do it so well and hopefully she will learn from this experience.’
But following Raducanu’s victory, many users on Twitter reflected on McEnroe’s comments. One wrote: ‘Eat your words John McEnroe!’
Another added: ‘Hey John McEnroe, I got you a huge dollop of this’ before adding a gif of humble pie.
In addition, another insisted McEnroe should speak publicly and offer his congratulations to her after she created tennis history on Saturday in New York.
‘Probably would’ve been nice for McEnroe to publicly congratulate Raducanu after what he said at Wimbledon, but some people just can’t admit they’re wrong, can they.’
Hey John McEnroe, i got you a huge dollop of this pic.twitter.com/Ty5kSp16z5
— Kris 😎⚽️⚾️🏈🏏🏀🏆 (@bajankris) September 12, 2021
Probably would’ve been nice for McEnroe to publicly congratulate Raducanu after what he said at Wimbledon, but some people just can’t admit they’re wrong, can they.
— Jenny O (@MsYellowHat) September 12, 2021