Emma Raducanu: British No 1 enjoys duel with Serena Williams at Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati | Tennis News

Emma Raducanu described the opportunity to play Serena Williams before the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion retires as a “wonderful gift”.

Raducanu faces Williams in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which will likely be the last American tournament before the US Open, where the British No. 1 is the defending champion.

Williams has indicated she will retire after competing at Flushing Meadows, with the 40-year-old saying she has “evolved away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me”.

“I think it will be an interesting match,” Raducanu told reporters. “I’m looking forward to it. This is a great opportunity to play perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time. This will probably be my last chance to play her.

“I think, given that our careers are over, I think I’m really lucky to get to play her. Whatever happens, I think it’s going to be a really good experience for me. and is something that I will remember for the rest of her life.

“Expectation, I really don’t know, I don’t really care. I just want to go out there and, one, enjoy the game that I’m going to play whenever I play it.

“It was a wonderful gift to play at her best on her way out of the sport. So I’m just looking forward to that.”

Their first and most likely last meeting

Raducanu, in the top 10 of his career, draws Williams, 40, who has played just three games in the past 13 months.

Raducanu said her fondest memory of Williams is when she was taken to Wimbledon by her first coach at the age of seven.

“Somehow we got to Central Court and we watched her destroy someone (6-1 6-1),” the 19-year-old said.

“It was great to see her perform live. That day with my first coach, I was so excited for that day. I think it was a really special time in my life. , a memory that I will always have.”

Speaking in Toronto, the 19-year-old said: “Seeing her around at this swing in the US is really inspiring.

“She keeps playing because she clearly loves the game. And I think the longevity of her career is something that a lot of players, and especially me, we also aspire to achieve.”

Despite that career high, Raducanu is just 11-14 next season in Cincinnati.

“To have success at a young age, obviously you have to be really grateful that I am doing what I love, but I also achieved success earlier than I really thought I was doing.” Raducanu said. “So I’m pretty proud of myself that way.

“But it’s been a tough year. I’ve definitely gone through and gone through a lot of challenges. To be fair, I’ve learned a lot from all of that.”

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