Agent identifies brutal thing Maria Sharapova avoided but Emma Raducanu experienced

Agent Max Eisenbud compares Sharapova and Raducanu's first Grand Slam wins.

by Dzevad Mesic
Agent identifies brutal thing Maria Sharapova avoided but Emma Raducanu experienced
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Agent Max Eisenbud says Maria Sharapova's first Grand Slam win didn't "come out of nowhere" like Emma Raducanu's but also adds that the Russian was lucky there wasn't social media around in 2004 or otherwise she would have experienced the same as the Briton did after her 2021 US Open win. 

Eisenbud - who is now widely regarded as the biggest agent name in the tennis world - made Sharapova a marketing giant after the Russian clinched her first Grand Slam title as a 17-year-old girl at 2004 Wimbledon. Even though Sharapova already had a few good runs at the Grand Slam level and was ranked inside the top-20, she wasn't really considered among the top favorites for the 2004 Wimbledon title when the tournament started.  

17 years later, Eisenbud - who in the meantime got labeled as the "tennis' super agent" - witnessed again a young player he is representing winning a Grand Slam in a highly impressive way after an 18-year-old Raducanu won the US Open as a qualifier ranked at No. 150 in the world. 

"Twenty years this year that she won Wimbledon. Her life changed obviously and my life changed. So, she went into that tournament seeded 13th at 17 years old, so it wasn't like an Emma Raducanu that came out of nowhere," Eisenbud said on the Served with Andy Roddick podcast.

"I don't think people thought she was going to win Wimbledon, but, you know, a couple weeks before she got to the quarterfinals of the French, the year before she got to the Round of 16 of Wimbledon. So, our mindset as the agent was like something big is going to happen and we're getting a lot of offers but we're going to stay patient."

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Eisenbud: Unlike Raducanu, Sharapova was lucky there was no social media then

When Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17 in 2004, social media existed but it wasn't anywhere in the shape or form of where it is today. When Raducanu made history and became the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam ever, she was making all the headlines and her name was constantly popping up across all social media platforms as her historic feat caught the attention of the entire sports world. At the time, Raducanu was just 18 and basically went from a promising but generally unknown teenager to a tennis superstar and someone who is being talked about all the time. 

After seeing what Raducanu went through, Eisenbud realized that Sharapova was very lucky that social media wasn't in 2004 what it is today. 

"Boom, then she wins and just everything changes. I mean, thank God there was no social media then. People always ask me to compare Sharapova winning to Emma," Eisenbud said.

"I mean, Emma won during this social media world which was crazy. Information was going so fast. Emma just couldn't catch her breath. Things were flying so fast. At least when Maria won, you could kind of catch your breath a little bit, you can put things in order and everything."

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Elsa

Eisenbud's message for Raducanu's critics

After receiving some heavy praise and being on the top of the world, Raducanu quickly learned the very negative side of fame when her results and form dipped. Over the last two years, no player has probably been more criticized than Raducanu, who is by now well-adjusted to being called out and slammed by the media. Also, for some time some have been labeling 21-year-old Raducanu as "a one-Slam wonder." 

Eisenbud believes all of this is just too much and urged the media and people to stop with "malicious" criticism of Raducanu.

"The girl did everything backward, she skipped every step," Eisenbud said on the podcast.

"She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn't even know where the player's lounge was, she didn't know where the practice courts were.

"Being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious."

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Francois Nel

Since becoming a Grand Slam champion, Raducanu hasn't had any notable runs at the Grand Slam. And not only that Raducanu hasn't come anywhere near winning her second Grand Slam, she also hasn't reached the third round of a Slam since the 2021 US Open. 

However, it should be noted that Raducanu battled multiple injuries over the last two years and had three surgeries last May. Now that Raducanu is healthy again, Eisenbud says he believes "she will win more Grand Slams."

After missing the last three Grand Slams of the 2023 season - including Wimbledon - Raducanu made her Slam comeback at the Australian Open, where she defeated Shelby Rogers before exiting the tournament in the second round following a loss to Wang Yafan. 

Barring an injury or unexpected setback, Raducanu will make her second French Open appearance in late May and also return for her third Wimbledon appearance in July. 

Maria Sharapova Emma Raducanu