Emma Raducanu 'happy for British tennis' after being named 2021 Sports Personality of the Year

A year ago, Emma Raducanu was ranked 345th in the world. On Sunday, she was named the 2021 Sports Personality of the Year.

Emma Raducanu pipped Tom Daley and Adam Peaty to the 2021 Sports Personality of the Year award last night, making her the first female tennis star to win the prize since Virginia Wade in 1977.

The 19-year-old's votes also topped those of Tyson Fury, Raheem Sterling and Dame Sarah Storey on Sunday evening.

But what makes Raducanu's story stand out is that just one year ago, she was an unknown entity to the sporting world, having just swept aside Grace Piper to win the BT Masters title at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

That earned her a world rank of 345th, but her statement after the victory showed the true character of Raducanu and her ambition that helped her land this year's award.

"I'm pretty ambitious," said Raducanu at Roehampton. "I think the progress that I'm making at the moment, the top 100 isn't too far out of the question. I really do believe I can do it."

While some may have scoffed at Raducanu's high hopes, her true sporting achievements this year eclipsed anything even she could've dreamt up.

Wimbledon and US Open

Firstly she defied the odds to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon, where her campaign was cut short due to breathing problems in her tie against Ajla Tomljanovic. That alone was a monumental feat, but her true coming of age came in the US Open.

Arriving at Flushing Meadows, Raducanu had already booked her flights home before the main draw began, aware of her inexperience at overseas qualification tournaments.

Instead, she charged through the draw without losing a single set, and then in a memorable final managed to topple fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez to win her first Grand Slam aged just 18. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she had to delay her flights home, even more so when she became a guest of honour at New York's exclusive Met Gala.

It was a sporting fantasy plucked straight from a fairytale, and capped Raducanu's meteoric rise to fame. By the time it came down to announcing Lewis Hamilton's successor at the Sports Personality of the Year awards, it had already been long decided that she'd be crowned Britain's latest sporting hero.

What Emma Raducanu said in her speech

Raducanu wasn't able to attend the ceremony live after testing positive for COVID-19, but she made an appearance over video, where she congratulated her fellow nominees.

"It's such an honour just to be among these nominees. Congrats to you and all your achievements. "I'm really happy with this, I've watched Sports Personality of the Year growing up and it's an honour to be among those past winners." Raducanu said.

She then thanked her fans and voters for the award, "I'm happy for British tennis as well, and that we've managed to get this award…again! Thanks to all the fans and voters, this year has been insane. The energy this year playing at Wimbledon in front of my home crowd, that was something I've never felt before."

Now ranked 19th in the world, Raducanu's next step is the Australian Open, which starts on January 17.

READ MORE: Positive COVID-19 test forces Emma Raducanu out of Abu Dhabi event

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