Emma Raducanu’s remarkable run to the fourth round of Wimbledon was brought to a devastating end on Monday night as she retired from her last-16 tie with Ajla Tomljanovic.
A set and 3-0 down, Raducanu was treated on Court 1 before leaving the stadium for further treatment.
Minutes later, Tomljanovic – who takes on compatriot and world No. 1 Ash Barty next – was told the match was over, with Raducanu not returning to the arena.
The 18-year-old didn’t do a post-match media conference, with tournament officials later confirming the reason she had withdrawn was due to ‘breathing difficulties’.
And on Tuesday afternoon, she released a statement on her withdrawal.
‘At the end of the first set, after some super intense rallies, I started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy,’ she posted on social media.
‘The medical team advised me not to continue and although it felt like the hardest thing in the world not to be able to finish my Wimbledon on the court, I was not well enough to carry on.’
She added: ‘I am feeling much better this morning, I want to congratulate Ajla on an incredible performance and i’m sorry our match ended the way it did.
‘I was playing the best tennis of my life in front of an amazing crowd this week and I think the whole experience caught up with me.
‘I want to thank the people who have cheered me on every single match, I wanted to win so badly for you! I also want to thank the All England Club, my team, the LTA, my parents and friends.
Emma Raducanu gave an interview to the BBC after her Wimbledon withdrawal.
‘Last night will go a long way to helping my learn what it takes to perform at the top. I will cherish everything we have achieved together this week and come back stronger! Can’t wait to see what’s next on my journey.’
Following her statement, Raducanu then gave an interview to the BBC. Wearing an England shirt she admitted she didn’t know what had caused the dizzyness and breathing struggles.
‘I’m very disappointed I couldn’t finish the match,’ she told Sue Barker. ‘I really wanted to be able to compete & try my best. I found it very difficult to regulate my breathing, it was emphasised by some long rallies which made it tough to keep my composure.
‘I don’t know what caused it. I think it was a combination of everything that has gone on behind the scenes in the past week.
‘An accumulation of the excitement, the buzz – I think it’s a great learning experience for me going forwards. Hopefully next time I’ll be better prepared.’
John McEnroe had earlier courted controversy for claiming the occasion was ‘too much’ for the 18-year-old Brit.
He told BBC Sport: ‘It’s a shame. I feel bad for Emma. It appears like it just got too much which is understandable.
Britain’s Emma Raducanu receives medical aid during the match against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic at their women’s singles fourth round match on the seventh day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 5, 2021.
‘It makes you look at the guys and girls who have been around for so long and wonder how they handle it. Hopefully she will learn from this experience.
‘Maybe it’s not a shame this has happened right now when she is 18. I played this tournament at 18 and in a way I was happy I lost.
Raducanu also refused to blame Wimbledon organisers for their curious choice of placing a women’s match as the final match of the day – something that had not been done for at least the past 12 years.
‘I think I was prepared to go out there whatever time of day,’ she added. ‘I was so excited. I didn’t find a problem with it, at all. Just to have the opportunity to go on Court 1, I appreciate. There’s no problem.’
‘I was able to understand what it would take to make it. Allow her to take some deep breaths and maybe get some wildcards.’
McEnroe was heavily criticised on social media, with Tomljanovic branding his comments as ‘harsh’ in her post-match press conference.
‘I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what was wrong with Emma,’ said Tomljanovic. ‘I did hear the reasoning. I’ll start with saying that I can’t imagine being in her shoes at 18 playing a fourth round in your home country. It’s something I can’t even imagine.
‘For him to say that, it’s definitely harsh. I have experienced something similar but not to that extent. I know that it’s a real thing. I’ve spoken to athletes that have gone through that. It’s not easy.
John McEnroe commentates from the Wimbledon Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 01, 2021 in London, England.
‘When I heard the reasoning, I almost felt worse about it because I know how bad that can feel. But then again, it didn’t happen to me. I can’t imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out. Being down 6-4, 3-Love, you can come back from that quickly, especially on grass.
‘It’s really sad that she had to do that. I do feel sorry.’
TV broadcaster Piers Morgan and former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen have both weighed in on the situation – agreeing with McEnroe’s assessment – with Andy Murray defending the young Brit in response.