Does Emma Raducanu care more about celebrity than tennis? Fresh from a break-up with her billionaire boyfriend and promoting Dior and Porsche in Scotland, Britain’s golden girl faces big questions back on grass

It remains to be seen whether Emma Raducanu can replicate her early success
It did not augur well that Emma Raducanu stumbled as she stepped up onto a high stool to discuss the tennis summer stretching out ahead.

She regained her poise and laughed, though injury setbacks have become such a part of the story since her rapid and brief journey to the top of tennis that a plain plastic seat might have been more prudent.

She’s back at the Nottingham Open, where the quality of her performance on the grass in a first-round defeat by fellow Brit Harriet Dart, three years ago, earned her the Wimbledon wildcard which was a preface to the unimaginable. Three exhilarating performances at SW19 that summer and a fortnight at Flushing Meadows which seems like a distant dream now.

When she struggled to live up to the champion’s billing, and the world No 10 ranking, which had brought Porsche, Dior and a galaxy of other brands to her door, this tournament seemed like a place to rebuild two years ago. But Raducanu was seven games into her first-round match with Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic when pain in her left side left her flat out on the court and it was all over.

She says she is stronger now and she certainly cut a more optimistic and personable figure on Monday than the troubled individual who reflected here, back then, that the US Open had brought difficulties in its wake.

It is a time of the year when we hear British players speak of this surface being the best of the best and these early summer months being the highlight of their year.

But Raducanu reflected that ‘a fast, slick hard court’ was her preference. She described how tournaments’ use of heavier, fluffier balls were a concern for players with wrist trouble, like her, and that grass, where ‘the conditions are pretty heavy and the balls are pretty heavy’, was ‘notorious’ in this respect.

It rather made you wonder how much Raducanu — still sixth in the last Forbes rich list of tennis players, with nearly £12million earned off-court and £235,000 on it this year — will really want and need this, if she does not rediscover her golden touch this year. The world is at her feet, regardless of tennis. The fabulous riches are hers.

Those who have watched her closely at courtside describe how the power, depth and accuracy of her hitting is still there.

It was particularly evident at Indian Wells in April, when she found the best of her game, even in a third-round defeat by world No 3 Aryna Sabalenka. But these peaks have been spasmodic and temporary.

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