Former world No 1 and seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin has said that Emma Raducanu must be given time to develop in order to rediscover her US Open form.
Raducanu came through qualifying to win the American Grand Slam on her debut appearance at Flushing Meadows. She became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade in 1977.
After her exits at Indian Wells and the Transylvania Open, the British teenager insists her new sponsorship deals off the back of her success have not been a distraction, while England rugby head coach Eddie Jones says Raducanu must stay grounded. Six-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has urged Raducanu to put in a call to acclaimed sports psychiatrist Steve Peters to help her psychologically.
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The 18-year-old world number 21 will be the top seed at WTA Linz this week with Simona Halep and Danielle Collins also in action.
Henin has said that Raducanu will have to be careful about managing the pressure off the court if she is going to become one of the world’s best players.
“Everything has gone very, very fast here in the span of a few weeks, between Wimbledon and the US Open,” she told Eurosport.
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“There's going to be a lot of digesting to do afterwards. Of course she's in the spotlight now, and that's something she's going to have to deal with. When you win a Grand Slam, especially when you come out of nowhere surprising everyone, it raises a lot of interrogations.
“Raducanu, she lit up the court with her tennis, with her audacity, with her attitude, and I was really impressed by her freshness.
“I loved this women's US Open and now we'll see what she'll be able to offer, obviously this week in Linz. But especially in the weeks and months to come. She is very young.
We'll have to give this player time because she's going to have a lot to deal with, especially her image. Today, I would like to say, it is potentially one of the greatest dangers for a player's career.
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Henin believes Raducanu is currently facing the “obstacle” of managing her public persona alongside her tennis.
She added: “Generally speaking, we are in a society where you have to manage your image more and more. Even if I personally try to have a slightly detached view of this, I also had to play the game during my career. But it was a totally different era.
"Today, the image in our lives is becoming more and more important. And so, it is true that in the end, managing this image is a bit of an obstacle on sporting performance because it takes a lot of energy, because there are the earnings of the sponsors, because you obviously have to play the game of the press and that is quite normal.
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“But in the end, if the main objective is to remain successful in sport, how do you balance and manage that?
“It's a challenge today, I think that all the players, some of them now have a lot of experience. There are young players who will have to discover this and we keep repeating that the importance of the entourage is determining. But of course, there are also parts of the entourage that are there to push certain things, and so all this has to be measured.
“It's a learning process, but it's true that it sometimes scares me a little bit for the young players who are arriving on the circuit today and who are achieving such rapid results. It's clear that it's not going to be easy for her to manage in the next few weeks and months.”
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