John McEnroe criticised after suggesting Emma Raducanu withdrew from Wimbledon because it was ‘too much’

John McEnroe criticised after suggesting Emma Raducanu withdrew from Wimbledon because it was ‘too much’

British teenager Emma Raducanu’s brilliant Wimbledon run came to an end in the fourth round when she was forced to withdraw during the second set of her clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic for medical reasons.

The 18-year-old, the youngest British woman to reach the second week at SW19 in the Open era, has become an overnight sensation and there were high hopes she could claim another win against 75th-ranked Tomljanovic.

But Tomljanovic withstood another barrage of power from the teenager to take the opening set 6-4 and move into a 3-0 lead in the second.

Raducanu had been noticeably struggling to breathe and, after consulting with the trainer and doctor, she took a medical timeout where it was deemed she could not continue.

Wimbledon later confirmed the news. The official reason given for Raducanu’s withdrawal was “difficulty breathing", although no further details have been given.

After the game, commentator John McEnroe appeared to jump to the conclusion that Raducanu could not handle the occasion, saying that it had “got a little bit too much”. He also conflated the incident with Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon because of depression and anxiety,

McEnroe said on the BBC: “I feel bad for Emma. It appears that it got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about these last six weeks with Naomi Osaka not even here. How much can players handle? Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”

He added: “Maybe it’s not a shame that it happened right now, when she’s 18. I think, seeing this, expectations drop a little bit, allow her to take a couple of deep breaths. She’ll get some nice wild cards into events now.”

John McEnroe believes his old adversary Ivan Lendl can help Andy Murray focusJohn McEnroe Getty Images

He also suggested the late start had contributed to Raducanu’s situation. “I don’t think it helped that the previous match went as long as it did because it made her think about it more. That’s a lot to take on, especially when you’ve never been there before.”

Tomljanovic was among those who criticised his comments, saying: “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what was wrong with Emma. I’ll start with saying that I can’t imagine being in her shoes at 18, playing a fourth round in your home country.

“For him to say that, it’s definitely harsh. I have experienced something similar but not to that extent. I can’t imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out. Being down 6-4 3-0, you can come back from that quickly, especially on grass. It’s really sad that she had to do that.”

McEnroe, a three-times men’s champion, also faced backlash on social media from viewers who accused him of belittling her medical issues. Some also said he would not have made the same comments if Raducanu had been a man.

Here are some of the responses.

Others couldn’t help remember McEnroe’s own colourful reactions when he himself was a player...

But others jumped to his defence:

Despite the disappointing ending, it has been a career-launching fortnight for the teenager from Kent, who will climb to 175th in the rankings from her current mark of 338 and can look forward to many better nights to come.

We know this is just the beginning.

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