The British tennis player defeated Canadian Leylah Fernandez in a straight-set victory on Saturday, becoming the youngest grand slam winner since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004.
She added that she took inspiration from now-retired Chinese tennis player Li Na, the former World No. 2, and “just the way she was such a fierce competitor.”
And following her victory on Sunday, she addressed her fans in Mandarin. “Hello everyone, I’d like to say thank you,” she said. “I hope you liked watching my tennis. I’m very, very happy right now … Thank you, I love you!”
She immediately won over new fans in China, who praised her performance on the court as well as her pride in her heritage. Many also praised her Mandarin message, delighting in her “cute” northeastern accent — her mother is originally from the city of Shenyang, in northeastern Liaoning province.
“Her grandma in Shenyang must be proud of her, and we people in Shenyang are also proud of her,” said one user on the Chinese platform Weibo.
Her victory trended on Weibo; one hashtag, “18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship,” has been viewed more than 200 million times, while the video of her Mandarin message has been viewed more than a million times.
By 2014, China had invested hundreds of millions of dollars to launch the Wuhan Open, a tennis tournament held in Li’s hometown. Li’s victory was “the new frontier for tennis in China, a new era,” said Fabrice Chouquet, co-tournament director of the Wuhan Open, in 2016.
Now, Raducanu’s spectacular win may inspire a new generation of Chinese tennis players.
“I will show this video to my daughter, hoping (Emma) can be her idol,” one user commented under Raducanu’s post-match interview, which has garnered millions of views on Weibo.