Tennis champion Emma Raducanu puts men who to attempt shame and judge in their place – Eleanor Bird

Emma Raducanu is an inspiring role model (Picture: PA)Emma Raducanu is an inspiring role model (Picture: PA)
Emma Raducanu is an inspiring role model (Picture: PA)
As an avid tennis fan (I enjoy a bowl of strawberries and cream and understand most of the rules), I watched on as Emma Raducanu swept to victory in her momentous US Open win last weekend.

Like the rest of the world, I marvelled at her steely determination, not only on court but as a young woman not long out of exam season and straight into the glare of the world’s press.

Alas, I haven’t been 18 for a long time, and it might surprise you to discover that I have never made it to the final of a grand slam, but it’s hard not to relate to the journey this player’s been on.

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Rewind just a few months to championships earlier in the year and a flood of news reports detailing the anxiety and exhaustion that Raducanu and her fellow player, Naomi Osaka, had seemingly so shockingly exhibited while competing.

When reactions started rolling in from male commentators desperate to stay relevant – the names of which I won’t waste my word count on – they were dishearteningly predictable.

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Judgement was guised as advice, and advice I’m not even convinced they were qualified to offer, but when has that ever stood in the way?

In the summer, I received a comment from a male colleague that he wasn’t aware councillors had holidays while I was taking a two-week period of annual leave – a sentiment I would suggest belongs somewhere in a Dickens novel rather than in 2021.

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But here’s the thing, these words don’t matter because they pale in insignificance when compared to the achievements of women like Raducanu and Osaka and the bravery they have shown in their short lives in speaking up about mental health and well-being. They’ve inspired. They are our role models, not those that seek to shame and suppress the most fundamental preservation of wellness and the strength there is in valuing it.

So, in closing, I think the message here is simple – “Thank you random man for your views but if I wanted them, I’d have asked for them. Please get out of my way because I’m busy, being the first British woman in 44 years to win the US Open”.

Eleanor Bird is SNP councillor for Forth Ward

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