Emma Raducanu ‘ready to embrace position’ and lead Brits to Billie Jean King Cup success

Emma Raducanu models for Dior skincare

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Emma Raducanu has been tipped to embrace her responsibility as Great Britain’s leader by Anne Keothavong as the team prepare to wade into this year’s Billie Jean King Cup campaign. The Brits travel to Prague for a best-of-five clash with Czech Republic that will take place on Friday and Saturday. 

Raducanu’s rollercoaster rise in tennis is epitomised by the fact that she was virtually unknown one year ago. A solid Wimbledon run preceded a stunning US Open victory in September which, combined with her exploits since, has catapulted her up to No.12 in the world rankings. 

She therefore leads Harriet Dart, Katie Swan and Sonay Kartal into the Billie Jean King Cup despite it being her first ever appearance at the tournament. In fact, her first outing against Tereza Martincova will be her first ever senior match on clay. 

Former British No.1 Keothavong is still optimistic about the team’s chances, and has backed Raducanu to embrace her leadership role. 

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“It feels like a new era,” she told BBC Sport. “I’m excited about the team. I guess a lot has happened over the past year and obviously Emma’s success has been highlighted and we’ve seen what she’s been able to achieve in such a short space of time.

“So we’re kind of getting into the unknown a little bit, and there has been a bit of a changing of the guard. I’m sure Emma will embrace her position, lead the team by example and really grow in that role in the years to come.

“In Harriet and Katie we’ve got two players who have been part of the team in the past so they know what the expectations are. They will bring good energy to the team and in Sonay, we’ve got someone who, compared to the other players, doesn’t have that experience.

“But I’ve been really excited with what I’ve seen with her and the results she’s had this year. If she keeps working hard that ranking is only going to go one way.”

Raducanu’s star continues to rise off the court with blockbuster sponsorship deals and appearances at star-studded events piling up, but on-court matters have not been completely smooth since her Flushing Meadows triumph. 

An encouraging win over Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open was followed by a disappointing second-round defeat against Danka Kovinic, when blisters wreaked havoc on her performance. Injury plagued her next match against Daria Saville in Guadalajara, too, having to retire towards the end of a gruelling three-set clash. 

Three matches have followed since at the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open, yielding one win and two defeats. 

Great Britain have a tough assignment in the Czech Republic, with Dart coming up against 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova to get the team underway on Friday. The Czechs, who will play on home turf, have won the Billie Jean King Cup six times since 2011. 

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