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Emma Raducanu achieved one of Britain's greatest sporting victories last night, winning the US Open in a thrilling final to become the country's first female Grand Slam champion in 44 years.
The 18-year-old from Kent fell to the ground and put her hands over her face after beating the 19-year-old Canadian 6-4, 6-3, in front of an enthralled Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows.
Raducanu, who was sitting her A-levels earlier this year, became the first Brit to win a major since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and is the first qualifier to triumph in a Grand Slam, in either the men's or women's game.
Life will never be the same again for the teenager as she claims a £1.8 million cheque - more than her entire career winnings to date - and soars up the rankings from 150 to 23.
'I'm still just so shocked, still in the moment,' Raducanu said afterwards. 'I can't believe I came through that last service game. It honestly means absolutely everything to hold this trophy. I just don't want to let go.'
Millions back home were watching, including the Queen who sent a letter from Balmoral, writing: 'It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication.'
She was joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who hailed her 'stunning performances and historic Grand Slam victory!'
Boris Johnson said 'we are all hugely proud of you' as he praised Raducanu's 'extraordinary skill, poise and guts.'
Tennis pundits heralded the victory as not simply an historic triumph for a British player, but as a landmark victory for the sport.
'It's a miracle' said former Wimbledon champion Chris Evert. 'This is a kid no one had ever heard of until a couple of weeks ago. Now she's the biggest name in sport. She's stolen all our hearts.'
After her victory, Raducanu planted a kiss on the silver trophy and beamed at the adoring 24,000 fans inside the Arthur Ashe.
The Briton said: 'Thank you to everyone here in New York for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match all the way through to the finals. Leylah's always going to play great tennis and always going to fight… I knew I had to dig deep.
'I think it shows that the future of women's tennis – and just the depth of the game right now – is so great. I think every single player in the women's draw definitely has a shot of winning at any tournament.
'I hope that the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the greatest legends', she added, naming Billie Jean King, who presented her with the trophy.
Raducanu beams as she holds the trophy up before the crowd at the Arthur Ashe on Saturday night
Raducanu plants a kiss on the US Open trophy after clinching victory in two straight sets against the Canadian Fernandez
Raducanu holds the US Open women's trophy aloft after beating the Canadian 6-4, 6-3 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York
Raducanu plants a kiss on the trophy after cruising through the US Open without losing a single set
Raducanu holds her new trophy in an embrace (left) and posing for photos after her sensational, historic victory
Emma Raducanu is handed the US Open trophy by American former No. 1 Billie Jean King at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York
Emma Raducanu holds her head in her hands after beating Leyla Fernandez in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in front of 24,000. Life will never be the same again for the teenager as she claims a £1.8 million cheque - more than her entire career winnings to date - as well as moving up in the rankings from 150 to 23.
Raducanu and Fernandez, players who have known each other since they were 12, embrace on the court after the final
Emma Raducanu fell to the ground and put her hands over her face after beating the Canadian 6-4, 6-3, in front of 24,000 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
The 18-year-old drops to the ground after beating the Canadian 6-4, 6-3 at the Arthur Ashe
Messages from far and wide: Balloons and a banner wishing Raducanu 'good luck outside her home in London (left) and a letter sent from the Queen at Balmoral, who wrote: 'It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication.'
Raducanu shouts and clenches her fist after taking a point in the first set of the US Open
Fernandez complained furiously to the umpire as she felt Raducanu was using her leg injury to take a breather
Raducanu yells in jubilation as the crowd get on their feet to cheer the Brit on against the Canadian Fernandez
The crowd erupts in jubilation at Raducanu's old tennis club in Beckenham. Suzanne Williams (centre) her former coach raises her arms into the air
Joyous crowds at Raducanu's former tennis club in Beckenham
Scarlet Howes and Abul Taher for The Mail on Sunday
The nation came to a standstill last night after a last-minute deal between Amazon and Channel 4 enabled tennis fans to enjoy the final between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez for free.
The deal – rumoured to be worth more than £1million – meant millions of people in the UK were able to watch the match on terrestrial television and not on an internet subscription-based streaming channel.
Last week Raducanu became the first British female tennis player to reach a Grand Slam single final since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.
But there were fears many would miss the momentous occasion –including her friends and family who have watched her meteoric rise this summer but are unable to fly to the US to see her play at Flushing Meadow due to Covid restrictions.
All fees from the Channel 4 agreement will be reinvested into British women's tennis to support the next generation of female British talent, Amazon said.
Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe, said: 'Emma's journey from qualification through to the US Open final at the age of 18 is a truly magical story for British sport and we think it's important that we extend our coverage to as many people as possible to support her in this historic moment for women's tennis.
'Young tennis talent such as Emma need the right support to become the stars we see today and we're delighted to be able to commit even more investment to the next generation of women's tennis in the UK.'
Amazon's streaming service costs each customer £79 a year and it has an estimated 9.5 million subscribers, according to Ofcom, the media regulator.
It offers a free 30-day trial, which can be cancelled at any time. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had yesterday called for the game to be available for free to watch, saying it would be a 'great gesture'.
Last night he praised the move, saying: 'The whole country will be behind the British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu, so I am delighted that Amazon Prime and Channel Four have responded to our call to make this historic sporting moment free to watch so that as many of us as possible can cheer her on.'
Joe Salisbury last night became the first Briton to win two doubles titles at a Grand Slam in the Open era after claiming the mixed doubles title at the US Open a day after winning the men's doubles.
Salisbury and American partner Desirae Krawczyk beat Mexico's Giuliana Olmos and El Salvador's Marcelo Arevalo 7-5 6-2 at Flushing Meadows.
On Friday, Salisbury and his US partner Rajeev Ram beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the men's doubles.
The first set was a nail-biter, with the games toing and froing from deuce to advantage and back to deuce again as the teenagers played fearless high-speed rallies from the baseline.
But in the second set, Fernandez's wayward serving let her down and Raducanu was able to turn the screw as she was handed freebies from the double faults.
The final game was fraught with controversy as Raducanu took time out for treatment after grazing her knee with the score poised at 30-40.
Fernandez furiously remonstrated with the umpire, complaining that the Briton was slowing the game down while she was on a roll.
Raducanu was unfazed as she returned to the court with a patch over her knee and the game continued to yet another deuce before the Brit lashed down a ferocious ace on her third match point.
Britain's Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong described Raducanu's victory as one of the greatest sporting achievements ever.
'It still feels so surreal - that was just an incredible performance from Emma, and from Leylah,' she said.
'A really high-quality tennis match from two teenagers, but honestly I never thought I would see a British female lift a grand slam trophy in my lifetime. I can't put it into words how huge this is.
'This is perhaps one of the greatest sporting achievements ever. I am so happy for her and the way she has done it, to not drop a set in the whole tournament, it is not normal and is unheard of.'
Raducanu reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in only her second WTA tournament but stepped up her level in New York.
Keothavong added: 'She has shown us all she is made for the big stage. It is just an unbelievable achievement and her life will be very different from now onwards. She has the ability to be right up there at the top of the women's game and dominate. Really, the future is looking more than bright.'
Back in Beckenham at Raducanu's old tennis club the atmosphere was electric throughout as a crowd gathered for a live screening of the match.
Those watching were optimistic, with cheers and applause erupting every time Raducanu won a point, and even louder when she took the lead.
Harry Bushnell, who coached Raducanu from the age of six to 10, said: 'I think it's a testament to her because she's such a pleasant person, on and off the court, and I think that's why so many people are getting behind her and certainly here at the club.
'Parklangley club will always be behind her every step of the way.'
Raducanu, 18, is the first qualifier to reach a slam final and is bidding to become the first British woman to win one of the sport's biggest trophies since Virginia Wade in 1977.
Suzanne Williams, her former strength and conditioning coach, said: 'It's absolutely incredible just to see her develop and become this player when I knew her when she was so young, from eight to 12 years old.
'Of course you could see there was some incredible potential there but to see her on the screen in this environment is incredible.'
She added: 'The sky is the limit, she's still not reached her full potential, she didn't play for months because of her A-Levels so she's got so much left in the tank.'
Speaking just before walking on court, Raducanu said: 'The time has flown here in New York. I've just been taking it one match at a time and it has got me to the final.
Raducanu rises to get herself over the top of a high ball to knock a return back to Fernandez
Raducanu gives a shout after winning a point (left) and leaping into the air to fire off a serve
Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot to Emma Raducanu, of Britain, during the women's singles final of the US Open
Fernandez strikes a two-handed forearm shot back to her opponent
Raducanu yells after a point as she gives herself a morale boost after claiming another point against the Canadian
Raducanu returns a shot from Fernandez as they get underway in the US Open final
Raducanu gets herself set up to lash a backhand back to her opponent
Raducanu looks up to the stands as she walks out with her bag over her shoulders for the final
Raducanu and her opponent walk out to rapturous applause at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows
The American fans go wild for Raducanu as she walks out onto the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Raducanu walks out onto the court at Arthur Ashe on Saturday afternoon hoping to make it a fairytale in New York
'I'm going to go out there and enjoy it today. It's so exciting in my second grand slam to be in the final. I can't really believe it but I can't wait to get stuck in. I'm sure the crowd will be great so it will be a really positive experience.'
Those at the club in Beckenham hailed Raducanu as an inspiration to the younger players and beyond.
Ms Williams said: 'For girls to know that it is in their reach because they're at the same place she was, it doesn't feel too far removed from them, it's just incredible for them to get this role model.'
Speaking about other children playing at the club, she said: 'They are just pushing themselves a lot harder and want to do a lot more, they are trying to do a few more things at the gym, it's really exciting.'
Not since Ms Wade lifted her most famous title at Wimbledon in 1977 has a British woman reaches these heights.
That the player to achieve the feat is an 18-year-old taking her first real steps in the professional game makes this one of the most extraordinary stories in all sport.
Ms Wade - who was in New York to watch the match tonight - called Raducanu the 'real thing'.
She told ITV this week: 'I can't tell you how exciting it is.
'We've been waiting such a long time for a British player on the women's side to really come through. Every time you watch her you think she's going to win every point out there. You don't even get that nervous. It was remarkable.
'I'm sure she is the real thing, you don't get someone head and shoulders above that often and I think she's one of those.
'She's stopping all her opponents in their tracks and she's got an incredible future ahead of her. If it doesn't happen on Saturday (win a grand slam) it's going to happen sooner or later because she is really good.'
Fernandez is just two months older than Raducanu and the pair have known each other since they competed at under-12 level.
Speaking just before walking out, Raducanu said: 'It's so exciting to be in my second Grand Slam and in the final and going out there today I can't wait to just get stuck in and I'm sure it will be a positive experience'
Raducanu (right) is taking on Leylah Fernandez, 19, (left) in front of 24,000 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York - the first all-teenage women's final at Flushing Meadows in 22 years.
Raducanu looks focused ahead of her match against the Canadian Fernandez who she has known from youth tennis since she was 12
Raducanu, wearing a red and blue ensemble made by Nike, in the tunnel before heading out
The match was preceded by a poignant ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, with a massive Stars and Stripes flag unfurled by female cadets, while a '9-11-01' stencil has been painted onto the court
Female cadets stand beside a stencil of 9/11/01 in a ceremony to mark 20 years since the terror attacks in New York City ahead of the match
A massive Stars and Stripes is unfurled in a ceremony to mark 20 years since 9/11 before the match got underway
Fans stand for the national anthem at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on Saturday afternoon
Members of the Military take part in the opening ceremony before the Women's Singles final match between Emma Raducanu of Great Britain and Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada
Harry Bushnell, coach to Emma Raducanu aged 6-10 at the Parklangley Club in Beckenham, where Emma trained from age 6 gets ready to watch her in the US Open Final
'We first encountered each other because I was born in Toronto and she was Canadian, so we kind of made a little relationship back then,' said Raducanu, who won their only previous meeting in the girls' singles at Wimbledon three years ago.
'Obviously since then we've both come very far in our games and as people. I'm sure it's going to be extremely different to when we last encountered each other. But we're both playing good tennis so it will be a good match.'
The pair share an immigrant background. Raducanu, who moved to the UK when she was two, has a Romanian father and Chinese mother while Fernandez has Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Filipino heritage.
The Canadian is coached by her father Jorge, who believes the final is a significant moment for the women's game.
The former footballer said before the match: 'I see they're both bringing a type of game that is not common right now on the circuit.
'I see that they bring a flair that is very unique for them. I'm glad that they're touching the Asian community. I think that's a huge opportunity in the women's game.
'I think it's just positive for the game. Obviously I want Leylah to win. That goes without saying. But I just think that the match-up and what we're seeing, those two ladies are touching a lot of young girls.
'I'm getting messages about, 'Please pass this to Leylah', little girls saying, 'You're making us believe'. This can only be good for the tennis game and the WTA altogether.'
By Scarlet Howes and Abul Taher for The Mail on Sunday
Barely out of school, Emma Raducanu is tipped to earn £100 million, win Sports Personality of the Year – and maybe even get an honour from the Queen.
Even before she stepped foot on court last night in the US Open final, the 18-year-old had made modern sporting history, becoming the first British woman to reach a grand slam single finals in 44 years.
Her fairy tale in New York has buoyed a pandemic-weary nation and is the icing on the cake for the prodigious Kent teenager, still celebrating her recent A* in maths and A in economics for her A-levels.
Last night, bookmakers William Hill said Emma was 10-11 favourite to become the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which will be announced in December.
It would be a remarkable feat in an Olympic year to beat gold medallists such as Tom Daley and Adam Peaty, but the possibility reflects her stratospheric rise since entering this summer's Wimbledon as a virtual unknown.
Emma Raducanu posing in Vogue. See the full feature in the October issue of British Vogue available via digital download and on newsstands Friday 10th September
Emma Raducanu's US Open final against Leylah Fernandez is to be aired on Channel 4
Raducanu during a training session in New York on Friday ahead of her historic clash with Fernandez
She insists she will not be a favourite for the final against Fernandez as she is only a qualifier
Raducanu's epic performances in New York have drawn in a legion of new excited supporters
If she wins, Emma would become the second youngest person to lift the BBC trophy, after Scottish swimmer Ian Black who won the prize in 1958 at the age of 17. Betfred put her at 4-6 odds-on favourite to win the gong, ahead of Daley at 9-4 and Peaty at 8-1.
William Hill have also given her 10-1 odds to get an honour from the Queen – and she certainly has royal support, with Prince William and Kate cheering her on at home. Rupert Adams, a spokesman for the bookmakers, said: 'I think the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is possible because it celebrates outstanding achievement in sport, which is what she has done already. The fact she is a woman helps, as she will get a lot of female votes as well.
'In terms of the Queen's honours, it may be a bit early in her career, but it is possible, if the stars align. You never know, the Government may fancy a really good feel-good story. But it may be like an OBE and not a damehood.'
Until this summer, Emma was ranked outside the top 300 players and had earned just £30,000 in winnings before gaining her wildcard entry at Wimbledon – where she got to the final 16.
Now in demand, she has been interviewed in Vogue magazine and says she has overcome her initial shyness to find her confidence.
Ahead of last night, when the nation came to a halt to watch her take on Leylah Fernandez at Flushing Meadows, she was already guaranteed £900,000 even if she lost – but experts say that is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Royals, tennis legends, world leaders and celebrities have piled praise on 'Teen Queen' Emma Raducanu after she blazed into the US Open final at the age of just 18
Brand expert Jonathan Shalit, chairman of the InterTalent Group, said a huge range of companies will now want to sign her up to advertise their brands, adding: 'I would say that she has the potential to earn £100 million over the next five years if she keeps winning.
'She is completely fresh and new, she is gorgeous and always happy, which is what we are all looking for as we come out of the pandemic.'
Born in Toronto to a Chinese mother and Romanian father, Emma Raducanu – or Radders to her friends – has a broad appeal according to experts and could easily eclipse Naomi Osaka, currently the world's highest-earning female athlete, who has pocketed £43 million on and off the court.
Simon Chadwick, an expert in sport business strategy and marketing, who is global professor of sport at Emlyon Business School in Lyon, France, said: 'Raducanu is a classic Gen Z teenager – mixed heritage, social media savvy, aspirational, which she combines with what seems like a positive predisposition towards life.
Hence, one can imagine that some of the deals she already has, with the likes of Nike, could become more lucrative for her.
'At the same time, some of the big mobile brands as well as digital platforms will probably be interested.' Emma is already managed by Max Eisenbud, of the IMG agency, who secured £20 million in sponsorship for tennis star Maria Sharapova.
By Claire Toureille for MailOnline
The Queen, Kate Middleton and Prince William have led the congratulation messages as Emma Raducanu won her first ever Grand Slam during the US Open tonight.
The Queen, 95, addressed a warm letter of congratulations to Emma while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praised the 18-year-old qualifier from Bromley for her performance and her historic victory.
Emma took on her 19-year-old opponent Leylah Fernandez and won her first Grand Slam final after a fairytale string of victories saw her reach the top of the competition.
The debutant is the first qualifier ever to reach the final in New York, having played ten matches without dropping a set on her blazing journey to worldwide stardom.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour Leader Keir Starmer and the England Football team have rushed to send their congratulations to Emma as well.
Throughout the evening, celebrities cheered British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu to victory at the US open.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pictured, have congratulated British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu after she won in tonight's US Open
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge congratulated Emma Raducanu on her victory after she won her first Grand Slam by defeating her opponent Leylah Fernandez
The Queen shared a letter of congratulations to mark Emma's win.
'It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication,' she wrote.
'I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players.
'I send my warmest good wishes to you and your many supporters,' the Monarch wrote.
The Queen, pictured, addressed a letter to Emma where she congratulated her on winning the US Open, saying: 'It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication'
The Queen praised Emma's hard work and dedication in her letter, and called her performance 'outstanding'
According to the Sunday Times' royal editor Roya Nikkhah, the Queen's letter was personally delivered to Emma following her win.
'Huge congratulations @EmmaRaducanu on your stunning performances and historic Grand Slam victory! Incredible –we are all so proud of you,' the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wrote.
They also congratulated Emma's rival Leylah Fernandez for her performance during the match.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Raducanu's 'extraordinary poise and guts,' he wrote.
'What a sensational match! Huge congratulations to @EmmaRaducanu. You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you,' he said.
Author Stephen Fry wrote: 'What a glorious day for two remarkable young women. Yes, it may be 'only' sport, but in that 'only' there can be found so much of human joy, despair, glory, disappointment, wonder and hope. A brief flicker of light in a dark world.
'Spoiler Alert: Sports Personality of the Year, Emma Raducanu,' comedian Jimmy Carr wrote.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: 'Just awesome: Emma Radacanu, what a fantastic achievement.'
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: 'What a winner. A true British hero. Congratulations @EmmaRaducanu on an inspirational win. From qualifier to champion without dropping a set. A phenomenal achievement.'
TV presenter Piers Morgan called Raducanu a 'champion' and said her victory was 'one of the greatest achievements in British sporting history'.