US Open 2022: would Emma Raducanu retaining her US Open title do more than just boosting national pride?

Emma Raducanu and fellow Brits insitigated a surge in grassroots tennis around the country after her US Open win

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This time last year tennis fans around Britain were preparing to watch the emerging star Emma Raducanu at the US Open.

She had just reached the last 16 of Wimbledon having only recently joined the WTA Tour at the Nottingham Open and after the hardship of the Covid-10 lockdowns, Raducanu seemed a bright answer to the longing question surrounding hope.

Never did we believe that the unimaginable would happen and the 18-year-old from Bromley would actually go on to win the Grand Slam, becoming the first British woman since Virignia Wade to do so.

And not only did we not believe that Raducanu would win the Grand Slam, the only qualifier to achieve such a feat, we were certainly also not expecting such a young and inexperienced player to win the title without dropping a single set in the entire tournament.

Now, we are just over a week from the competition’s return, and UK tennis fans will be rushing to their screens to see if Raducanu can complete the miracle once more.

Her achievement at Flushing Meadows instigated not only an influx of money into the world of British tennis, but tennis centres around the country were suddenly experiencing a huge rise in the number of new memberships.

Last year, the Express Sport reported that around 40% of tennis courts in public parks were either in an unplayable condition or would soon be, if they received no funding.

Shortly after her win, the UK Government sent out their own press release which confirmed £30m would be spent on 4,500 public tennis courts in deprived areas.

However, is this a pattern that will continue depending on whether Raducanu can reach the same heights as last year, or will Britain have to suffice with just a boost in national pride if Raducanu can retain her title?

Raducanu in fine form at Cincinnati Masters this week Raducanu in fine form at Cincinnati Masters this week
Raducanu in fine form at Cincinnati Masters this week

With the cost of living crisis pervading the nation, it seems unlikely that another strong run from the young 19-year-old will create such divisive funding action from the government as was seen before.

However, to kill such momentum would be an unbelievable waste of what has already been achieved.

This year has seen a monumental rise in exposure for British tennis players that have given UK tennis a much needed shot in the arm.

The 2022 Wimbledon Championships saw 36 Britons get involved, with Katie Boutler and Liam Broady both reaching the third round; Heather Watson reaching the fourth round and Cameron Norrie defying all expectations to reach the semi-finals.

All of this was achieved during a time where the UK’s government was in constant turmoil, with cabinet members running away from Westminster faster than Norrie’s serve.

While the British public had no clue who was running the nation or who was set to stay in office from one hour to the next, our tennis stars shone on centre court, providing stability where no-one else could.

In an almost poetic parallel, the US Open will arrive at a similar time to the equally anticipated - but perhaps filled with rather more dread than excitement - Tory Party leadership election.

Will we once again turn to our heroic tennis star to pull us through another political debacle as we spend those days spent in New York vicariously living through our young hopes and dreams in Raducanu?

Call it cynical if you will, but there’s an argument to be made that any progress Raducanu makes in Flushing Meadows will garner far more national pride than the announcement of the next Prime Minister.

While we may be forced to accept that, irrespective of what Raducanu is able to achieve in the Big Apple, there is unlikely to be any financial benefit for grassroot tennis, the eventual benefits will surely arise.

If British tennis’ young stars continue to dig deep and go far in their tournaments, the rewards will help eventually force more investment into those grassroot areas that need it most, paving the way for an even more gifted crop of youthful talent to emerge.