Shropshire Star

Emma Raducanu turns down place at Paris Olympics

Raducanu chose not to take a wild card to compete at the Games.

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Emma Raducanu has been backed to play at future Olympics after she turned down a potential spot in the Team GB squad for the Paris Games.

Team GB announced its tennis selection for the tournament at Queen’s Club on Sunday and Raducanu was absent, but Iain Bates, LTA Olympic team leader, insisted he was “very comfortable” with the decision made by the 21-year-old.

Raducanu could not qualify for the tournament at Roland Garros through her lowly singles ranking, although she may have been granted an International Tennis Federation (ITF) place to compete due to being a grand-slam winner.

Andy Murray was awarded an ITF place to represent Team GB for a fifth time, but Raducanu chose not to follow his lead and apply for what is essentially a wild card to play at a maiden Olympics.

Bates, who is also head of women’s tennis at the LTA, cited the quick change in playing surfaces from grass at Wimbledon to the clay of the Paris Games before the US hard-court swing as a reason behind her decision to miss the Olympics, especially so soon after a lengthy lay-off.

“We were notified on Thursday that Emma would be eligible for one of those (ITF) places,” Bates explained.

“I’ve had various conversations with Emma over the last couple of weeks and indeed over a longer period where it is really clear to me how much being part of a British team at the Olympics would mean to her.

“We saw how much it meant when she represented the team in April in the Billie Jean King Cup tie, but I think she also feels that this is not going to be the right timing for her this summer.

“I think a lot of that is obviously the late notice for the spot, I think there is the bit around the surface change between grass and clay and hard. Everyone is aware of her history and the double wrist surgery from last year that places a greater stress on her.

“And of course there is an element of where her ranking is currently and getting to the US potentially and keeping on pushing her ranking back towards where we all hope it will be. (It) is really significant for everyone to see her back at the top of the game.

“You always want to have a bigger team in the Olympics because it is such a cool event and it is such a great event for tennis players that play week in, week out on the tour.

“It is a fabulous experience, but you forget that Emma is 21 and she has got hopefully many Olympics ahead of her, which is what she said to me.

“I think she will get many experiences in the future, come LA (2028) hopefully when she is 25 and hopefully a medal shot.

“From an Olympic team side or head of women’s tennis side, I’m very comfortable with the decision that she’s made.”

Raducanu discussed the decision after she lost in three sets to compatriot Katie Boulter in the semi-finals of the Nottingham Open.

“I love playing for my country, that was pretty clear at the Billie Jean King Cup,” Raducanu reflected.

“I really fought and I enjoyed it so much, but the Olympics is just not the right time for me this year.

“I really hope to be part of the next one. With the changing surface, it is not worth the risk for me at this point, having recovered from the surgeries last year, but I do wish the team good luck.”

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