Fans leapt to the defence of British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu following ‘nasty’ and ‘ridiculous’ comments from England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones.
Jones, 61, warned rising star fly-half Marcus Smith about his increased publicity and used US Open champion Raducanu as an example in an athlete getting distracted by their rising profile.
Raducanu, who has already stressed tennis is her ‘priority’, gained celebrity status with her maiden Grand Slam win at Flushing Meadows, with brands lining up to offer her sponsorship deals and a host of magazines featuring her on the front cover.
Since winning in New York the 18-year-old has signed deals with Dior and Tiffany & Co jewellers, as well as appearing in Sports Direct’s Christmas advert alongside Manchester City’s midfielder Jack Grealish.
‘The big thing for young players is distractions,’ Jones said. ‘Distractions can be the exposure they get in the media, the praise and criticism they get, groups of agents who see this guy as the next big thing.
‘There’s a reason why the girl who won the U.S. Open hasn’t done so well afterwards. What have you seen her on? The front page of Vogue, the front page of Harper’s Bazaar, whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes.
‘He is grounded, but they all start off grounded. No one starts with their feet off the ground or they don’t get in the team, or they don’t win a US Open. But there’s this flood of distractions that comes in that makes you ungrounded.’
Emma Raducanu’s rise to fame has been used by England coach Eddie Jones as a warning to fly-half Marcus Smith – with Jones claiming Raducanu has become distracted off the court
Jones’s comments towards the tennis star were slammed by fans who said he lacks respect
Social media was quick to denounce Jones’s remarks as ‘nonsense’ and a ‘cheap shot’
It is important to point out that Raducanu’s Vogue cover shoot was taken pre-US Open, following her success at Wimbledon weeks earlier, and since winning the biggest prize in New York she has won two matches and lost two.
Fans were therefore incredibly bemused at the ‘cheap shot’ from Jones towards a player that he simply referred to as ‘young girl’.
‘What a ridiculous comment,’ one fan wrote.
Another added: ‘What a cheap shot, from a cheap coach. He should be ashamed, but he won’t be.’
‘Emma Raducanu, a school girl goes from 343 in world rankings to 21, reached the quarter-finals of her last competition whilst only playing a few tournaments on tour. She even won her first GS (Grand Slam) before even winning on the WTA circuit. Nasty comments about a successful teenager,’ another furious fan said.
Raducanu produced the sporting story of the year by winning the US Open as a qualifier
That maiden Grand Slam saw media interest in the 18-year-old escalate rapidly overnight
Jones referred to Raducanu as a ‘young girl’, rather than by name, and fans labelled it ‘nasty’
Harlequins fly-half Smith is generating lots of excitement in rugby circles and is seen as the future for England at the No 10 position.
But he has achieved nothing comparable to the monumental feat of Raducanu, who is still adapting to life on the WTA Tour.
‘Extremely harsh from Eddie Jones here,’ one fan’s verdict read. ‘Firstly, she’s called Emma Raducanu. And secondly, Marcus Smith hasn’t just won a major title. 28 minutes of exciting rugby in an Autumn series isn’t the same league as winning a grand slam, she’s entitled to enjoy it.’
Context is key and while Raducanu was pictured at the famous New York Met Gala following her US Open success, she has not missed a training session and Jones over-stressed her number of off-court assignments in the weeks since her US Open win.
‘Does he want Raducanu chained to a tennis court for the next 15 years of her life? She’s done 4 off-court events in the 7 weeks since her win. She’s also stated that she hasn’t missed a day of training either. Jones talking nonsense,’ another fan noted.
Smith played an eye-catching cameo in England’s 69-3 win over Tonga on Saturday afternoon
Raducanu has stressed that her priority is tennis and has said she has not missed any training
Other angry fans said Smith and Raducanu are at two vastly different points in their stardom
Since winning in New York the 18-year-old from Bromley suffered an early exit at Indian Wells in California and lost in the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open last month to Marta Kostyuk.
Raducanu, who is the top seed at an event in Linz, Austria, this week has stressed she has made it crystal clear to those around her that her focus has been – and always will be – tennis.
‘I made it very, very clear to every single person in my team that I was not going to cancel one training session or practice session for any off court commitments,’ Raducanu said recently.
‘I wanted to make sure that that is my priority, and it is. so everyone’s clear about that. But it’s just managing my time with the commitments around that.
‘I have been quite busy since the US Open, but I felt like that was gonna come with it and like, I didn’t expect as much but yeah, I’ve been really enjoying everything since the US Open.’