John McEnroe has defended his comments about Emma Raducanu withdrawing from Wimbledon, which caused controversy in the summer.
The 18-year-old, who stormed to a phenomenal US Open triumph as a qualifier without dropping a set, saw her incredible run at Wimbledon come to an end in the fourth round after she retired hurt against Ajla Tomljanovic.
Raducanu - who shocked 2020 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the second round and world number 45 Sorana Cirstea in the third at SW19 - retired from the match due to having "difficulty breathing".
Raducanu donates US Open final outfit to Tennis Hall of Fame
McEnroe said the withdrawal showed "it just got a little bit too much" for Raducanu and he hoped "she'll learn from this experience", which she duly did at Flushing Meadows in winning her maiden Grand Slam title.
"I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” tennis legend McEnroe had said on the BBC at the time. “It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with Osaka not even here.
"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. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience."
- Tennis stars fill red carpet at Met Gala as Raducanu celebrates US Open title
- Murray on 'very special' Raducanu and why he must improve ranking
- Opinion: Djokovic, Raducanu and Medvedev show nothing in sport is certain
McEnroe has now defended his comments and said that he was surprised by the outrage that some of his views caused following Wimbledon.
“I meant exactly what I said,” McEnroe told CNN. “I tried to relate it in a small way to my experience when I first went to Wimbledon, also at 18.
“There’s a lot of great upsides, but there’s also pressure you put on yourself and expectations that others put on you. I mean that was to me as vanilla as it comes ... I was very supportive of her, I thought, at the time.
You know the papers over in England. Sometimes they, like, make a big deal out of, to me, nothing.
“I don’t think you could possibly do it any better than she did it [at the US Open],” McEnroe added. “That’s insane that she’s been able to do this."
'She looked so comfortable in the biggest moments' - Wilander in awe of Raducanu
Talking about four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, McEnroe continued: "She came out last year, made a big statement at the US Open wearing the mask. It was a great thing.
“Osaka was someone who was very shy and introverted the first time I met her. I think she continues to be that way now.
“Now, all of a sudden, more attention is on her. I hope to God she can handle it because we need her around for another 10 years.”
At the time of McEnroe's initial comments on Raducanu, Tomljanovic had defended her opponent after some of the reaction to her withdrawal.
"I am actually shocked because Emma must be hurt if she came to the decision to retire," Tomljanovic said in a sympathetic interview after the match.
"I am really sorry for her, I wish we could have finished it. I am wishing her all the best."
'We need a revolution' - Federer supports Osaka; says players need help with press
Raducanu's coaching change: Ruthless or rash? And who's next?