• Raducanu’s eight-year exile from the UK means she has never played with the Duchess • Raducanu was dropped from the Australian Open on schedule of partner
Tennis’ newest superstar Emma Raducanu celebrates return to UK by playing with Duchess of Cambridge
Most people leave home at least once in their life. The new favourite player of Queen’s Club played her first game in Britain – at Kensington Palace.
Tennis’ newest star, Emma Raducanu, toured the Royal Family’s home during her eight-year exile from the UK, and was left tearful by her rendezvous. Raducanu, 28, whose mother is Albanian and father Greek, was dropped by the Australian Open last week because of a scheduling conflict with her partner Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Her tumble out of the qualifying rounds also caused embarrassment for the British players at the tournament. But after a week of wild reports of a major power shift in women’s tennis, fans now have a welcome distraction, a picture of Raducanu playing a bit of volleyball with Princess Beatrice and Prince Andrew.
Argentina’s Raducanu was introduced to the royals by Raducanu’s father Dionisio in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, in June, and again by the Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. “They were all very nice,” said Raducanu, who regularly plays in Europe but not in Britain or America. “[Prince Andrew] was very patient and very nice,” she added.
When the three young women were introduced to the man who would become Prince Andrew, it was “weird” for Raducanu because she had not experienced a royal before.
“He didn’t know me,” she said. “He was the only one who didn’t speak English and was actually used to being surrounded by the foreign media, who had a lot more enthusiasm than I did.”
She started playing volleyball – an unlikely sport for someone who had been confined to a tennis cage for so long – by herself in Belgrade. At 14 she suddenly had several challengers, with Raducanu publicly announcing her arrival in September 2013 with her so-called “hole-hitting” groundstroke.
Raducanu was quietly dropped last week by Australian Open organisers, with comparisons made to the same decision taken several years ago when Croatia’s Ana Konjuh was overlooked for Eugenie Bouchard.