At the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, Emma Raducanu made a brilliant underdog run to the 4th round becoming the youngest British woman to reach the pre-quarterfinals. She had to however retire due to breathing difficulties mid-match in what was a very unfortunate end to her stay in the All-England Club as she was a wildcard entry with a rank outside the Top-300.
Commenting on BBC during the match, former World No. 1 John McEnroe had said, “It appears that it just got a little bit too much, which is understandable”. The comment saw him receive a lot of backlash for being too harsh on an 18-year-old debutant and McEnroe had saved face by saying that he spoke what he understood seeing the situation, having had a career of more than 2 decades.
“It’s a lot to deal with when they’re not prepared” John McEnroe on young players like Emma Raducanu getting panic attacks
McEnroe emphasised that he was just using his career experience to know what young players go through and once again expressed his delight that discussions on the mental health of athletes are picking pace, something that wasn’t going on when he was playing. He also cited the examples of Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep who have also openly discussed their difficulties during big occasions leading to a panic attack.
“I wouldn’t say anything different. I have four girls of my own. I’ve never met Emma but I was just giving an educated guess as to what I thought was happening, based on 45 years of being around the professional game. And what it seemed like was happening, which happens all the time. It’s not like she’s the first person it’s happened to. Maybe it’s the first person where it happened to where she was told, for whatever reason, not to continue playing. That may be the difference.
“Naomi Osaka‘s had issues with mental health. This has been going back as far back, when I was playing. You were supposed to grit your teeth and bare it and get through it and tough it out and this type of stuff. Now it’s becoming more of a discussion point, and rightfully so. A lot of times for these young guys and girls, it’s a lot to deal with when they’re not prepared to. It’s a dream, but it’s also can be quite difficult, like overwhelming.
“Simona Halep said she had the first panic attack of her life playing at the French Open. So this is something that’s being discussed more and more. I was trying to be supportive of her without exactly knowing what was happening. And I felt bad for her. And I was amazed that she was able to come out of that and suddenly win the US. Open. I’m on her side. Just for the good of the game, I’d like to see her be able to reach her potential,” said McEnroe as per Express UK.
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