Ex-British star sounds off on Emma Raducanu's Olympic decision

Raducanu's decision to skip the Paris Olympics left Annabel Croft 'very surprised.'

by Dzevad Mesic
Ex-British star sounds off on Emma Raducanu's Olympic decision
© Getty Images Sport - Nathan Stirk

Former British tennis star Annabel Croft seemingly had a hard time understanding Emma Raducanu's decision to skip the Paris Olympics and fears the 21-year-old Briton might "regret" that decision one day.

When the British team for the Paris Olympics was announced over the weekend, it was revealed that Raducanu would not play there. And after it was shared that Raducanu was offered a main draw wildcard for the Paris Olympics but still declined to play, the 21-year-old started instantly drawing criticism and scrutiny. 

Some were pretty harsh in their criticism of Raducanu, calling her "a diva" who only does something she feels like doing. 

Later that same day, Raducanu spoke to the media and addressing her Paris Olympics decision and the comments she was receiving, she said that quickly changing surfaces from grass to clay wouldn't be good for her. Also, Raducanu strongly rejected claims that she was acting like a diva. 

“I have to be honest, I was very surprised to hear that she wouldn’t want to go there,” Croft told Tennis365.

“Every player knows her own mind at the time and she has obviously given it a huge amount of consideration and has decided that going from grass to clay and then going onto the hard courts. I just hope she doesn’t regret it. I’m sure she will have many other opportunities in the future, but you never know.

“Her body has broken down a few times already, she has had wrist surgeries and ankle surgery and it has prevented her from getting any momentum in her game.”

Annabel Croft
Annabel Croft © Getty Images Sport - Alex Broadway

Croft details what Raducanu will miss out on experiencing

Had Raducanu signed up for the Paris Olympics, she would have made her Olympic debut this year. But after the decision she made, she will have to wait until at least the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics to possibly make her Olympic debut.

Croft, who was once the highest-ranked British female tennis player, says the Olympics are just a different experience and something that you don't experience on the WTA Tour. That is one of the reasons why Croft is disappointed to see Raducanu out of the upcoming Olympics. 

“All I know is that every player who has gone to the Olympics has had such a wonderful experience. They enjoy going to watch other athletes in other sports and it’s a kind of a once, possibly, in a lifetime experience," Croft added. 

“Things have changed. We know that the Olympics and tennis go hand-in-hand every four years. It has become a stand-alone thing and it is a very different mindset.

“When you play on the tour, you are very insular and it’s all about you. Very selfish. When you have to represent your country, it’s a totally different pressure and there are different nerves that run through your body. It just feels totally different to anything you experience in tennis.”

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Nathan Stirk

Raducanu's explanation for withdrawing from the Paris Olympics

In the two years after the 2021 US Open, Raducanu was constantly dealing with injuries and physical setbacks. That led to the Briton making a hard decision and undergoing surgeries to both wrists and her left ankle last May. 

Since returning to tennis this year, Raducanu has managed to stay healthy and that's the most positive thing about her season. While the 21-year-old is currently fully fit and healthy, she feared that going to clay after Wimbledon could potentially lead to some injuries.

“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

Last week in Nottingham, Raducanu played her first grass tournament since 2022 and she made a very promising start to the 2024 grass season after reaching the Nottingham semifinal. 

Next up for Raducanu will be a WTA 250 tournament in Eastbourne next week, where she will be making her debut. After a strong Nottingham result, Raducanu will certainly be looking to also do well there and further boost her confidence levels ahead of Wimbledon.

Emma Raducanu Olympics Annabel Croft