British teenager Raducanu passes her Wimbledon tennis exam

London (AFP) –


Emma Raducanu, basking in the limelight of an unlikely run at Wimbledon, would prefer to reach the fourth round rather than receive top grades in her school exams.

The 18-year-old was sitting her A Levels in Maths and Economics just over two months ago.

Shoot forward to Thursday and she was sitting calmly answering like a seasoned professional questions from the world's tennis press after a superb 6-2, 6-4 win over Czech Marketa Vondrousova in 72 minutes.

Vondrousova, ranked 42 in the world, may regret having practiced for an hour last week with the teenager whose performance made a mockery of her present ranking of 338.

Canada-born Raducanu came to Britain aged two with her Romanian father and Chinese mother, both of whom have watched her this week.

She next plays the experienced Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who upset 12th seed Victoria Azarenka in three sets on Thursday.

Raducanu is not afraid of a challenge, having tried go-karting, aged nine, to moto cross, ballet, tap dancing and horse riding before tennis got the nod.

However, her parents were under the impression her number one priority was to get A* grades which under 10% of the students taking A levels achieve.

"I'd have to say round four of Wimbledon," said Raducanu when asked whether she would prefer two A stars or beat Cirstea.

"I think anyone that knows me would be like, What?

"Everyone thinks I'm absolutely fanatic about my school results.

"They think I have such an inflated ego about it. Actually, I would say I have high standards of myself.

"That's helped me get to where I am in terms of tennis and also in terms of school results."

Raducanu was only handed a wild card into the main draw at late notice but is now assured at the very least of £115,000 for reaching the third round -- around four times her career earnings to date of $39,558 (£28,762).

- 'Sweet young lady' -

Her progress into the senior ranks has been stalled by the coronavirus pandemic and due to staying in school so she only made her maiden appearance on the WTA Tour in June.

"I think it's quite incredible really," she said about the amount of prize money.

"I think for me, I'll definitely use it. I'm sort of at the beginning of my career, just tapping into great coaches.

"Tennis is an expensive sport. To travel and compete week in, week out, it's definitely going to go towards funding that."

She says she always felt she could compete at the top level but injuries and little niggles kept on halting her progress.

"I kept that belief that once I had the opportunity to go out and play, given such an opportunity to play at The Championships, I had that intrinsic belief I could do it," she said.

Cirstea and Raducanu met at the beginning of the week.

"She's a very sweet young lady," said Cirstea of Raducanu.

Cirstea has reached the last 32 on three occasions before at Wimbledon but never gone further.

"I think that just to be able to be at The Championships, I feel like I'm on a holiday, like it's unbelievable," added Raducanu.

"I just want to stay here for as long as I can."