Emma Raducanu insists she wants ‘role model’ Lewis Hamilton to win Sports Personality of the Year INSTEAD of her… and teenage star praises ‘really cool’ F1 world champion for helping her cope with life in the spotlight
Emma Raducanu will support Lewis Hamilton’s bid to win the Formula One championship — even if it threatens her chances of becoming the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.
The Kent teenager’s popularity was evident on Sunday as she received a rapturous reception when playing an exhibition match at a sold-out Royal Albert Hall in London.
She remains favourite for SPOTY, although she confirmed she would be in the Middle East at the time. She even plans to stay out there and train over Christmas before heading for Australia.
Raducanu has been taking advice from Hamilton on how to cope with life under the spotlight
An avid motorsport fan, she will be backing Hamilton in the climax of his season, having bumped into him at New York’s Met Gala after her extraordinary US Open triumph.
‘I met him in person at the Gala and we had a really good conversation there,’ she said after beating Romania’s world No 85 Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 7-6 in a light-hearted encounter.
‘He’s just been really cool and helping me. Like he said, be patient. You have just got to ride the wave.
‘I’m rooting for Lewis. He’s been such a good role model for me in terms of helping me out and through these next stages.’
Raducanu will sacrifice Christmas at home to be fully prepared for the Australian Open, and will have a prolonged stay in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where she is playing an exhibition event next month.
Raducanu made a winning return to Britain at the ATP Champions Tour event at London’s Royal Albert Hall, beating Elena-Gabriela Ruse in a not-entirely-serious exhibition match (above)
Raducanu revealed Formula One world champion Hamilton (right) has been mentoring her
‘I’m there to train, I’m there to get better,’ she said. ‘What’s going to be best for me is staying in the Middle East rather than flying seven hours back and forth. So I feel like it’s not a sacrifice and hopefully my mum or dad can come out.’
Her new coach, German Torben Beltz, was not in London on Sunday. Since coming back from a Caribbean holiday, Raducanu has been doing a purely physical training block in Bromley with very little tennis. But they will meet up shortly.
‘He’s coming in and we’ll be working hard together throughout the off-season into Australia,’ she said.
Playing at the Royal Albert Hall was the latest new experience in a whirlwind six months.
The match was contrastingly non-serious compared to her last appearance on British soil, in Wimbledon’s fourth round. Early on a young admirer shouted out a marriage proposal.
Raducanu (right) remains determined to stay grounded despite her stunning recent success
It was not her first visit to this Champions Tennis event, which is moving away from the historic venue next year.
‘I came here when I was maybe six years old,’ she added.
‘I couldn’t see the ball or the players because it was so big, but I came with my dad and watched the singles matches.
‘But all I wanted to see was Mansour Bahrami hold five balls in his hand. It’s pretty surreal that I get to play on the same courts that I once came to growing up.’