Emma Raducanu gets brutally honest on 'diva' claims after move that left GB furious

Raducanu responds to criticism received following her decision to skip the Olympics.

by Dzevad Mesic
Emma Raducanu gets brutally honest on 'diva' claims after move that left GB furious
© Getty Images Sport - Nathan Stirk

Emma Raducanu strongly dismissed claims that she is "a diva" after deciding against representing Great Britain at the Paris Olympics, explaining that she felt it was the right thing to do for her body considering her injury history.

On Sunday, it was announced that the ITF offered Raducanu a main draw wildcard into the Paris Olympics because she was a Grand Slam champion. However, the 21-year-old Briton declined the invitation, which means she won't be making her Olympic debut in late July in the French capital. 

To no one's surprise, Raducanu's decision not to play at the Olympics when she was given a chance drew ire in Great Britain, with some claiming that she is "a diva" and only does what she feels comfortable doing. But after suffering semifinal a semifinal loss in Nottingham on Sunday, the 2021 US Open champion defended herself by pointing to her injury history and explaining that going from grass to clay and then to hard would be too risky for her.

Last year, Raducanu had surgeries on both wrists and on her ankle.

“I’m very single-minded and I do things my own way and at my own time – not in a diva way – but just prioritizing my body and my health because if I’m fit, if I’m giving 100 percent, I know great things are coming,” Raducanu said.

“I just don’t think there’s any need to put additional stress on my body or any risk, especially with my history. It [clay] is more demanding on the body, for sure. It’s more physical, longer points, but I think it’s more just the change, the contrast between clay and grass and then on to the hard… For me, it is not necessary at this point to put my body through that.”

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Nathan Stirk

Raducanu on her love for Great Britain and the BJK Cup 

This past April, Raducanu represented Great Britain for the first time in two years when she led her country to a Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers win over France. After Raducanu's heroics in April, the hope was that she would also represent her nation at the Olympics. 

Further defending her Olympics decision, Raducanu said she "loves" her country before adding that "the timing just wasn't right" for her to make her Olympic debut.

“I love playing for my country, I think that was pretty clear at the Billie Jean King Cup. I really fought, I enjoyed it so much, but the Olympics is just not the right time for me this year. I really hope to be a part of the next one, but with the changing surface it’s just not worth the risk for me at this point having recovered from the surgeries last year, but I do wish the team good luck," Raducanu added. 

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Nathan Stirk

How British tennis officials reacted to Raducanu's decision

On Sunday, British tennis officials didn't slam Raducanu when announcing her decision.

"I think she feels this isn’t going to be the right timing for her for this summer," Ian Bates said, the head of Team GB's Olympic tennis team.

When asked directly if he was disappointed by Raducanu's decision, Bates said that wasn't the case. Instead, he also tried to defend Raducanu and the reasons behind her decision.

“I’m extremely happy to see her on the court playing the level of tennis that she’s played on and off during the course of this year. You forget that Emma is 21,” Bates said. 

“She’s got hopefully many Olympics ahead of her which is what she said to me. And I think she’ll get many experiences in the future, come Los Angeles hopefully, when she’s 25 and hopefully a medal shot. From an Olympic team side or head-of-women’s-tennis side, I’m very comfortable with the decision that she’s made.”

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Aurelien Meunier

Meanwhile, Raducanu fell just short of making her first final since the 2021 US Open. On Saturday, Raducanu won the first set of her Nottingham semifinal versus Katie Boulter before rain suspended play. When action continued on Sunday, Raducanu failed to get the job done as world No. 31 Boulter came back from a set down to win 6-7 (13) 6-3 6-4. 

After the match, top-ranked British female tennis player Boulter spoke very highly of Raducanu.

“What a match. What an incredible player. She’s only going to get better and better. She makes it so tough for you to close it out. I’m just so happy to get through today. I’m proud of myself," Boulter said of Raducanu.

This week, Raducanu isn't competing in any tournaments but she is expected to return to action at next week's tournament in Eastbourne.

Emma Raducanu Olympics