Frank Skinner jokes about Piers Morgan and Emma Raducanu
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The 18-year-old British tennis star is hoping she can best American player Shelby Rogers in their US Open last-16 clash tonight. Raducanu, who grew up in Bromley, comes fresh off the back off an impressive Wimbledon campaign, which ultimately saw her withdraw after she had “difficulty breathing”. After entering the tournament as a wildcard, Raducanu had a dream start as she progressed through the early rounds, before sweeping aside Romanian Sorana Cirstea to earn a spot in the last 16.
However, she eventually bowed out against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic after encountering medical difficulties.
Veteran commentator John McEnroe took to the airwaves to suggest that Raducanu couldn’t handle the pressure.
He also likened her SW19 exit to Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open due to mental health concerns.
He said: “I feel bad for Emma. It appears that it got a little bit too much, as is understandable.
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“Particularly what we’ve been talking about these last six weeks with Naomi Osaka not even here. How much can players handle? Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.
“Maybe it’s not a shame that it happened right now, when she’s 18. I think, seeing this, expectations drop a little bit – allow her to take a couple of deep breaths. She’ll get some nice wild cards into events now.”
His comments drew instant backlash, although the broadcaster was defended by former Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan.
In a tweet he wrote: “McEnroe told the truth. Ms Raducanu’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly.
“Not ‘brave’, just a shame. If I were her, I’d tell my fans to stop abusing McEnroe, & seek his advice on how to toughen up & become a champion like he was.”
British tennis legend Andy Murray, who has trained with Raducanu, then waded into the row to defend his fellow Briton.
In a tweet he said: “Think this is a very harsh take on the situation Piers.
“I think some of what he said was fair yes…however the timing of it was a bit off considering nobody had any clue what her issue was injury/illness/breathings issues etc at the time of his comments.”
The pair’s spat continued as Piers claimed that people criticising young female athletes were hit by allegations of “misogyny”.
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Piers was also critical of Naomi Osaka over her behaviour during the US Open last week before she crashed out of the tournament.
Piers called the Japanese star a “spoiled brat” after she threw her racquet and hit a ball into the crowd during her loss to Canadian Leylah Fernandez.
Raducanu made her main-draw Flushing Meadows debut last week with a convincing 6-2 6-3 win over Swiss player Stefanie Vogele.
The teenager then cruised to a comfortable 6-0 6-1 victory over world number 41 Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The win, the biggest of Raducanu’s career so far, set up a clash with Rogers at the Arthur Ashe Stadium at 7pm tonight.
Raducanu is competing for a place in the quarter-finals but has so far remained relaxed about the prospect of taking on American Rogers in front of a packed US crowd.
She said: “Playing in front of your home crowd you have a different level of motivation.”
“(But) I’m pretty motivated for any situation I am thrown into.”
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