Nature and Nurture. A winning combination Raducanu-style

“They’re my toughest critics and very, very hard to please, but I got them with this one,” said Raducanu about her parents, after winning the US Open. Not only has Emma Raducanu, aged only 18, won a Grand Slam (the first British female in 44 years to win a major singles), but also, she was awarded $2.5 million dollars in prize money AND she holds the record for winning an International Tennis Federation under-18 event when she was only 13.

Clearly, she has talent. She also has an enviable work ethic, drive, ambition, desire, focus - and the list goes on. But aside from that, her parents’ support has been key to her success by all accounts.

Ian Raducanu, her Romanian father, has been described as “unorthodox” in his approach and even “a bit out there”. Most significantly, he hired different coaches for different aspects of her game. Typically, a player at her stage who is becoming established, will have one all-rounder coach, but Ian was gathering information on technique from different sources. “He is happy to think outside the box. As a coach, he challenges you – his view is the coach does not necessarily know everything”, remarks one coach.

It also helps that Emma, who just achieved an A* in Maths and an A in Economics at ‘A’ Level, is quick to pick up information, as one of her coaches describes: “The unique thing about Emma is that you teach her something, she gets it, and then it’s there. With most players - even top-10 players - you drag them up to a standard on a particular skill, and then when you start the next session it has slipped back again. Her ability to learn and retain new information is uncanny”.

Renee Raducanu, Emma’s mother, is known as the “no-nonsense” parent. “My mum comes from a Chinese background; they have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture”.

“They have been pushy to an extent,” says Emma about her parents. “Not just in tennis but in everything. I think that I’ve developed that mentality since a young age”. They pushed Emma and they had high expectations. “When I was younger, I would get quite upset and emotional on the court, and I got that knocked out of me pretty quickly”.

Emma did not actually specialise in tennis until she was a teenager. She started playing at 5, but she enjoyed other activities including ballet, skiing, basketball and horse-riding; playing a range of sports can develop creativity in your game, as well as transferable physical skills. Rafael Nadal for example, played football as his main sport until he was 12 and it’s thought that this developed his great stamina.

Emma Raducanu’s approach, of playing a variety of sports before specialisation, of drive and self-discipline, of focus and learning, combined with the powerful all-important nurturing she received, is a winning combination. And of course, with all that commitment, there needs to be a sprinkling of luck too.

Recommended links

Emma Raducanu Tennis Profile | LTA

How Emma Raducanu prevents one mistake from leading to another | Tennis | The Guardian

Emma Raducanu wins US Open: My dad is tough to please but I managed to today' - as it happened (

Emma Raducanu's parents: How 'out there' father and 'no-nonsense' mother put needs of their daughter first (

'My toughest critics': It's a crying shame Emma Raducanu's parents could not share climax of a lifetime's hard work (