Rain at Wimbledon is dampening spirits at the grand slam this evening as the downpour delays British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu's match against Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic on No1 Court - and sparks fears her fairy-tale run at the tournament could be postponed until tomorrow.
Raducanu, who is the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 since 1959, is the nation's last hope in the singles draw after tennis superstar Sir Andy Murray - a former world number one and Olympic gold medal winner - crashed out of the grand slam last week.
Wimbledon's newest golden girl, who is ranked 338 in the world and was handed a wild card, put her tennis career on hold during the coronavirus pandemic in order to concentrate on her A-Levels.
She was born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two. Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance last month at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions.
Screens have been set up at Raducanu's school - Newstead Wood School in Orpington - to allow staff and pupils to watch her take on Tomljanovic in the fourth round match. Staff and club members will also be watching next door at Bromley Tennis club, where Raducanu played regularly from the age of nine to 16, before moving on to train at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Her teachers described her as 'focused, determined and hard-working' on and off the court, with Newstead School headteacher Alan Blount saying she was 'in the zone' and 'loving every minute' of the tournament.
'Emma has been with us since year seven when she was 11 years old and she's always been tipped for great things,' Mr Blount said ahead of the match. 'Obviously you can't look into the future and you don't know if it is going to come good, but we knew she was heading for great things.
'If everything was right she was going to be the next big thing and look, here she is.'
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those expressing support for Raducanu online and wishing her luck ahead of the game. He tweeted: 'Congratulations @EmmaRaducanu for reaching the second week at @Wimbledon and for making Championship history.
'Good luck in your match today. The country is behind you.'
Raducanu took to the practice courts with her coaches Matt James and Nigel Sears ahead of her showdown this evening. Mother-of-one, Michelle Derham, 29, who lives a few doors down from the Raducanus was preparing to watch her neighbour against Tomljanovic.
She told MailOnline: 'It's incredible to think that she's going to be playing in Court One at Wimbledon in a last 16 game watched by millions around the world when just a few months ago she was training outside my window.
Rain at Wimbledon is dampening spirits at the grand slam this evening
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Spectators react as rain stops play on centre court on day seven of Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu at a practice session on the Aorangi Practice Courts on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon
The downpour is delaying Raducanu's match against Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic on No1 Court
Champ in the making: Emma competing in a junior competition in France, left, and on her way to victory at Wimbledon on Saturday. Even if she loses, Emma – who has been praised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sir Andy Murray – is tipped to earn millions in sponsorship deals. One expert said: 'She's very clean-cut, attractive, multicultural, successful and young'
Boris Johnson was among those expressing support for Raducanu online and wishing her luck ahead of the game
Emma Raducanu is the youngest British female to make it into the second week at Wimbledon for more than 60 years.
Christine Truman reached the fourth round in 1959 aged 18 years and five months – two months younger than Emma. Remarkably, two years earlier Truman made it to the semi-finals aged 16 in her debut in SW19 in 1957.
Truman's success was all the more impressive given that since birth she was partially blind in her left eye – a fact her family had kept secret from competitors in her early days.
Asked whether her daughter's sight had contributed to her disappointing performance at Wimbledon in 1962 when she was knocked out in the third round, her mother told a newspaper: 'It is nonsense to suggest that Christine's eyesight has affected her tennis in any way. It was exactly the same when she was on top of her form.'
In a career spanning more than two decades, Truman, an unpredictable player whose form could soar one week and crash the next, won titles in France and Italy and was later a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open. She had another successful Wimbledon run in 1965 when – unseeded and all but written off by observers – she made it to the semi-final. Continuing to play at domestic tournaments throughout her career, she was Martina Navratilova's first opponent at Wimbledon in 1973.
She married former Wasps rugby player Gerry Janes, and the pair had four children, one of whom – Amanda Keen – went on to become a professional tennis player who twice played at Wimbledon and had a career-best ranking of number 207. Mrs Truman Janes retired from tennis in 1975 and became a commentator for BBC radio.
She was awarded an MBE in the 2001 Queen's Birthday's Honours list for her services to sport. She has also published several children's books including her first, Dilly And Other Poems, about a loveable doll which finds itself in different situations, such as – unsurprisingly – learning to play tennis.
Even though she stopped playing tennis competitively many years ago, Mrs Truman Janes still takes to the court at her local clubs in Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, Suffolk. She told her local newspaper: 'It exercises all the muscles and it is something you can keep doing into old age.' Meanwhile, Britain's men's No 2 Cameron Norrie – the last British star in the men's singles after Andy Murray crashed out of the tournament on Friday – lost his match against Roger Federer yesterday.
Norrie, 25, put up a valiant effort against the eight-time champion but was beaten in four sets. The player stopped during the match to give a memento of his official Wimbledon towel to a young spectator who had been hit by a tennis ball. It was the third consecutive Grand Slam event where Norrie had reached the last 32, losing to Rafael Nadal at both the Australian and French Opens prior to his defeat to Swiss veteran Federer yesterday.
'She and her dad were knocking balls back and forth to each other. It's lucky that she's so good and managed to avoid hitting the cars in the street. I guess tennis courts may have been closed because of Covid -regulations so she had to improvise.
'She was out there every day practicing with her dad Ian. They are a lovely family and I'm so proud and so thrilled that she is doing so well. I'm going to be cheering her on this afternoon that's for sure and hope she can go even further.'
Retired David Moore, 74, added: 'She's fantastic and has worked so hard to be where she is. I've seen her playing tennis out in the cul-de-sac with her dad many times.
'The whole street is proud of her. We've all got our fingers crossed that she can get through today.'
Saturday's win means Raducanu is guaranteed a payday of at least £181,000 this week - over six times her previous accumulated career earnings of £28,762. Now the teenager, from Bromley, south-east London, is guaranteed £300,000 if she wins her last-16 match against Tomljanovic.
Even if she loses, Raducanu - who has been praised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and former world number one Sir Andy - is tipped to earn millions in sponsorship deals.
Brands are likely to be clambering over themselves to sign her up; with her charming post-match interview on court leaving her joking about how she never expected a second week at Wimbledon.
After her first round victory, she gained 30,000 followers on Instagram - and Saturday's win took that to another level - she's currently on 153,000 and rising fast.
The teenager told the adoring crowd on Saturday afternoon. 'It's funny because when I was packing to come into the bubble, my parents were like, 'Aren't you packing too many sets of match kit?' So I think I am going to have to do some laundry tonight.'
One expert said: 'She's very clean-cut, attractive, multicultural, successful and young.'
Born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, Raducanu moved to Britain at the age of two and grew up in London. She first picked up a racquet aged five and played at Bromley Tennis Academy from the age of ten.
During lockdown, she could be seen knocking tennis balls back and forth to her dad in the quiet cul-de-sac where the family live.
On her Instagram page, the rising star references her global roots listing London, where she lives now, Toronto, where she was born and the two cities where her parents are from Bucharest in Romania and Shenyang in China.
Her dual heritage remains important to her and she's spoken fondly of relatives across the globe, saying: 'My grandma, Mamiya, still lives in central Bucharest. I go back a couple times a year, stay with her, see her. It's really nice. I love the food, to be honest.
'I mean, the food is unbelievable. And my grandma's cooking is also something special. I do have ties to Bucharest.'
Weeks ago, the teenager, who's a fan of Taiwanese TV shows, was sitting A-Levels in Economics and Maths at Newstead School in Orpington, Kent.
Raducanu has been described as a 'model pupil' by her teachers at the selective girls' grammar school. She achieved three 9s, and four 8s in her GCSEs and is awaiting the results of her maths and economics A-levels.
Her PE teacher Sarah Eells, said it was 'very emotional' watching Raducanu 'achieve her dream' and that the teenager was a 'role model and an inspiration' to other pupils.
'I'm so proud and it's very emotional how we feel just seeing her achieve her dream and show her skill,' she said. 'She fully deserves it and her hard work is paying off. Her mindset is so strong and she is very focused and determined. I believe she has all the qualities of an elite sportswoman.
'I 100 per cent think she is made for this and she will go all the way. The shots that she's pulling off are just outstanding. How she's finished them off and coped with the pressure is incredible.
'I'm quite blown away with what she is achieving but it shows her character on court... but that's just her as a person. No drama or ego, she's just very hard-working and dedicated.
'She's an absolute role model and inspiration. The buzz that we've got that's going on for the students, the staff and the past students is amazing.'