LONDON (AFP) – Newly-crowned US Open champion Emma Raducanu’s grandmother Niculina Raducanu wanted her to quit tennis so concerned was she about her health after breathing difficulties forced her to retire from her Wimbledon Last 16 match this year.
The 88-year-old Romanian told The Daily Mail her granddaughter’s “health is more important (than wealth or fame).”
Fortunately for 18-year-old Briton Raducanu neither her father Ian (son of Niculina) nor Chinese mother Renee took the advice and she swept through the US Open to become the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title.
Niculina Raducanu ‒ known to Emma as ‘Mamiya’ a Romanian term of endearment for grandmothers ‒ is close to her granddaughter.
She would host Emma twice a year in Bucharest in her apartment whilst she would come to the family’s home in England to care for her granddaughter and recount stories about Romania.
However, she was so anxious for Emma after she retired from her clash with Australian Ajla Tomljanovic at Wimbledon she dared broach the subject of retirement with Raducanu’s parents.
“I asked her parents if she should quit tennis,” Raducanu told the newspaper after they tracked her down at her Bucharest home.
“Because what if something should happen to Emma?”
“Her health is more important (than wealth or fame).
“The court she played on that day had a roof over it because it was raining, and she felt she couldn’t breathe.”
When it came to last Saturday’s US Open final, though, it was the grandmother not the granddaughter who faltered.
“The night she won the U.S. Open (Raducanu beat fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3), I couldn’t watch because my heart couldn’t take it,” she said.
“I said to myself: ‘This match is going to be a really tough one,’ so I decided not to watch it.
“I only found out the news the next day, and I was delighted she was strong and healthy, and that her mind was healthy also — especially after what happened the last time (at Wimbledon).
“When I talked to my son, I was happy for him.
“He would have been so disappointed if she’d have lost after all the work and resources they’d put into this.”
Niculina says she has resisted till now revealing to her neighbours and friends what her Canada-born granddaughter had achieved.
“Of course, I’m very proud of her,” she said.
“But I’ve never told anyone I’m the grandmother of a Grand Slam champion.
“I am a very modest woman, and I don’t want people to think I’m bragging. When Emma puts her mind to it, she will get it. She was always a fighter.”