The welcome arrival of a new sporting star | Matt Mohan-Hickson

It feels like we are going to become very familiar with the name Emma Raducanu over the coming years.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 9:14 am
Emma Raducanu poses with the trophy after winning the women's singles final of the US Open. Picture: Michael Nagle/Xinhua/PA Wire.
Emma Raducanu poses with the trophy after winning the women's singles final of the US Open. Picture: Michael Nagle/Xinhua/PA Wire.

But I am probably getting ahead of myself here and we should instead take a moment to approach how utterly incredible her achievement this weekend was.

In recent years we have seen such sporting fairy tales as Leicester City lifting the Premier League but this is surely even a greater triumph.

A player who had come through the qualifiers had never made it to the final in the Open era of tennis – male or female – let alone actually win it.

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And yet that is what Emma Raducanu has done at Flushing Meadows.

Even more amazingly she did not lose a single set from qualifiers, through all the rounds and even in the final.

It is very rare that you get to watch the moment that a new sporting star comes out of nowhere to announce themselves on the world stage, but that is what we got to witness on Saturday night.

Here is to many more Open titles for Miss Raducanu.

We need a better phrase for parting than ‘goodbye’

Goodbye. It is such a simple word; just two syllables and yet so versatile.

You can say goodbye to the cashier, to the bus driver as you climb off at your stop and use it as you leave your loved ones behind.

But for all its versatility, it is an oddly cold word. It is a bit like a blunt tool. It gets the job done, it conveys the required meaning but without any sense of elegance.

There is a real sense of finality to goodbye – almost as if you are closing a door never to open it again.

Despite spending almost 28 years on this planet, I hadn’t really given much thought to how inadequate a word goodbye is – until recently that is.

However over the last couple of months, I have had to become quite good at saying that word.

But when you are standing in the departures section of an airport, parting from the woman you love yet again, saying ‘goodbye’ doesn’t feel right as it rolls off the tongue.

It gives an already sombre moment a weird sense of finality, when in truth it isn’t a ‘goodbye’ because we will be meeting again.

Contrast this with the French word for parting: ‘Au revoir’ which literally means ‘until we meet again’ and explicitly suggests that you will see the person again.

It really does highlight the cold bluntness of saying ‘goodbye’.

Although I must take a moment to acknowledge the fact that it is extremely clichéd to be referencing the so-called language of love in a column about the difficulties of being separated from your partner.

You would have thought that over the last couple of thousands of years as English has evolved that collectively we could have come up with a more beautiful turn of phrase for saying bye.

Surely over the last two thousand years as our language has taken influence and inspiration from old Germanic, Norse, Latin, French and more we could have found a way to improve on ‘goodbye.’

But as I scratch my head thinking of what that could actually be, I must admit I am running short of inspiration.

So I may have to just borrow from our friends across the channel and adopt ‘au revoir’ for the time being, until the day that we find a more beautiful way to say farewell.

A great final let down by the crowd

There are a few finals that truly stand out as among the greatest in the history of tennis – the 2008 Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal for example.

And it feels like Raducanu vs Fernandez is destined to join that pantheon.

It was a spectacular sporting occasion that was unfortunately marred by the awful crowd.

As the match marched towards its conclusion, I found myself getting increasingly irate at their behaviour.

It felt like everyone in the Arthur Ashe Stadium wanted Raducanu to lose. Deathly silence when she won a point, but over the top cheers when Fernandez picked up points.

The strangest part was that it was a final between a Brit and a Canadian, it wasn’t like an American was involved.

But the worst part had to be the fact that they didn’t stick around to cheer Raducanu as she picked up the trophy – it emptied quicker than a footy ground when the home team is 5-0 down in the 85th minute.

Surely you would think people would want to stick around to acknowledge the finale of an incredibly sporting fairy tale?

If she was from Missouri they’d already be writing the screenplay for the film adaptation.