Emma Raducanu lifts lid on Harry Kane friendship ahead of Australian Open bid
As far as confidantes go, being able to call the England captain a close contact only a few years into one's professional career isn't bad going.
But that's the reality for Emma Raducanu after befriending Tottenham talisman and "great role model" Harry Kane, about whom she only has positive things to say. And the British star could use all the inspiration she can get as another Grand Slam season gets underway at the Australian Open on Monday.
“Harry’s obviously such a great role model and very professional and I think to be able to speak to him is really cool," said the 2021 U.S Open champion of her relationship with Kane. “We haven’t spoken so much but he’s obviously an outstanding player and it’s just pretty cool isn’t it.
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"For someone of his achievements, it’s pretty remarkable how he’s so humble. I respect him a lot. It’s obviously really cool to speak to some other athletes.
“I think it’s good because we all kind of understand what each other are thinking and going through at times. And at the end of the day they’re just really cool people as well.”
Raducanu faces an uphill battle in Melbourne, where she'll begin her quest for a second major title against Germany's Tamara Korpatsch on Monday morning local time (Sunday at midnight UK time). The 20-year-old had been in a race against time to be fit for the first Slam of 2023 having badly rolled her ankle at the ASB Classic in Auckland just 11 days ago.
After failing to advance beyond the second round of any major tournament in 2022, the pressure on Raducanu's to impress this year is once again high. Fellow MBE Kane, 29, knows a thing or two about shouldering similar burdens, having skippered England to a quarter-final exit against France at the 2022 World Cup, where he missed a crucial penalty in an agonising 2-1 defeat.
Raducanu was in Qatar for the tournament this past autumn and took in a historic final between then-titleholders France and eventual champions Argentina. Watching Lionel Messi finally end his wait for the greatest prize in football was a motivational experience in itself, made all the better by getting to watch up close and personal.
“I think watching it as an athlete you probably have a little bit of empathy as to what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking in those pressure situations and moments," she continued. "I think you appreciate a lot more what they’re able to do under such circumstances.
”But then you also have a little bit of envy of, ‘Oh, I wish I was playing a tennis match on this scale with all this support’. The atmosphere was insane in the stadium. I’ve never heard anything like it.”