Britain’s teenage US Open champion Emma Raducan made her star billing debut at Wimbledon Center Court on Monday in the first round of Monday’s 6-4 6-4 win over Belgium’s Alison van Uytwank.
It was an impressive performance for the 19-year-old after coming to the tournament in the wake of a worsening race of injuries and no practice on the grass.
Van Uytwank is ranked 46th in the world but favors the grass that has won 12 of her 14 matches on the surface this year, including two second-tier titles.
Her low slice made things difficult for Raducan, who took some time to work out how to deal with the lack of speed coming her way, but Britain grew in confidence and became a worthy winner lifted by home fans.
She screamed in delight after completing the victory, displaying a winning laugh that made her a sponsor’s dream.
“It is an incredibly special feeling to be back at Wimbledon,” Radukanu said.
“I felt supported the moment I walked out and walked around the field. I would like to thank everyone who has been here during a difficult time. It is worth it to play on Center Court and come up with a win.”
Raducanu reached the fourth round as an unknown wildcard a year ago before winning the US Open, but this time the 10th seed holds the hopes and expectations of a nation that has not seen the home champion since Virginia Wade in 1977.
Raducanu, understandably, and Van Uytvanck, are struggling with consistency in both opening matches, so that grass is shortened after its race to success.
The action improved as Raduca broke to 4-3 for the first time, then broke with love, then broke to love herself. That put her in a position to serve the first set, which, after falling 15-40, did what was right to excite her fans for the first significant roar of fortnight.
The British players looked lively by entering the board but were unable to take advantage of the early break points and van Uytwank struck first, taking a 3-1 lead.
Raducanu, who was suspected of participating a few days ago due to a side-strain, immediately withdrew when he was lowered to face Belgium’s low-ball slice.
Growing in confidence and accuracy, Raducan began to take responsibility and got a major break for a 5-4 win courtesy of Double Fault.
He strongly served to give his hometown fans the victory they so craved and set up a second round meeting with Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.