Emma Raducanu said she was “immensely proud and grateful” after her incredible breakthrough year ended with another accolade as she was made an MBE in the New Year Honours.
The 19-year-old has swept the board at 2021’s sporting awards, including the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, after becoming the first qualifier to win a grand slam title at the US Open in September.
Now Raducanu has achieved the rare distinction of receiving an honour as a teenager having turned 19 in November.
The British number one said: “It makes me immensely proud and grateful to be listed to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen. This year has been full of amazing surprises for me so to end 2021 with this appointment is very special.”
Raducanu is not the youngest sporting star to feature in the prestigious list – swimmer Ellie Simmonds was only 14 when she was made an MBE after winning two gold medals at the 2008 Paralympics.
But the accolade is yet another demonstration of the magnitude of Raducanu’s achievement, with the Kent youngster having begun the year preparing for her A Levels.
She played her first competitive tournament for 15 months in June before bursting into public consciousness with a run to the fourth round on her Wimbledon debut.
That ended with breathing difficulties and a retirement against Ajla Tomljanovic but Raducanu rebounded in extraordinary fashion, sweeping through 10 matches in New York to become the first British woman for 44 years to win a grand slam singles title.
Raducanu’s victory over fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez saw her make tennis history and catapulted her into the global spotlight.
There will be a great deal of scrutiny over what Raducanu does next and how she fares in what will be her first full season as a professional tennis player.
She arrived in Australia on Thursday ahead of her Australian Open debut later in January after a pre-season with new German coach Torben Beltz that was disrupted by a bout of coronavirus.
Currently ranked 19th, Raducanu has no points to defend until June and it is not inconceivable that she could break into the top 10 during the opening months of the year.