Did you stay up and watch the Emma Raducanu tennis match too? The Brit really wowed us, didn’t she? Even the Queen stayed up to pen her congratulations.

It all started in Nottingham, of course. With Raducanu’s A-levels out the way, her first Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) main draw match was on the Beeston grass courts at the Nottingham Open in June. She got in on a wild card.

She lost in her opening game to fellow Brit Harriet Dart but those in charge of such things spotted something in her thundering winning shots and allowed her a free pass to Wimbledon.

She had a blip at the All England Club and pulled out, but ask any elite sportsman or woman about developing as an athlete. It is never straightforward and doesn’t always run smooth.

Raducanu is only 18 – her immigrant status is well-documented – but on the Arthur Ashe court she showed bravery, resilience and single-mindedness beyond her years.

She’s the first qualifier, man or woman, to win a grand slam final and the first British woman to win a grand slam final in 44 years.

Nothing against the American way of presenting a tennis tournament but we are blessed to have the Wimbledon tournament over here where proceedings are run with precision and class.

Did you, like me, cringe when the amount Raducanu had won in dollars was announced at the presentation ceremony?

That woman who took back the envelope on the podium must have heard our cries because she soon sloped off with it.

I used to love playing tennis before I got old. All those angled shots attempted which sometimes turned into winners. I enjoyed some cracking games and made some good friends. I was never going to be a champion and the same goes for millions of amateur sportspeople who play for the love of it.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan enthused on a tweet about Raducanu’s south London origins: ‘…And if you work hard, and get a helping hand, you can achieve anything.’

Is that strictly true though? We heard similar sentiments after the Olympics.

This statement needs a caveat so millions of youngsters do not end up disappointed. You need dedication, many years of training for your specific sport, a support network of family, friends and experts along the way. Grit, determination, staying focused under pressure, never giving up, a willingness to fail and come back stronger.

You also need to choose the right sport. One that is ideal for your physique and skills.

Emma Raducanu has inspired a generation. Don’t even bother voting for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. Emma’s got it in the bag.

Published September 15, 2021