In response to statements he made about Raducanu’s ability to handle the tennis spotlight, McEnroe told CNN in an interview, “I meant exactly what I said,” according to reports on news.com.
McEnroe earlier stated that the strain of Raducanu’s grand slam debut “just got a little bit too much” for her when she backed out of Wimbledon in July due to breathing issues.
McEnroe’s comments on Raducanu
“I tried to relate it in a small way to my experience when I first went to Wimbledon also at 18,” McEnroe said about his 1977 four-set loss to Jimmy Connors in the semi-finals.
“(Raducanu) did better than I did. I played Jimmy Connors, I hadn’t been on the Centre Court and I remember my legs shaking, feeling totally overwhelmed by the experience and almost happy that I didn’t win.”
McEnroe has been chastised for his past remarks on Raducanu. It was still unknown what had happened with Raducanu at the moment, and her opponent, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, described McEnroe’s comments as “definitely harsh”.
“Subsequently I went to Stanford for a year (after Wimbledon) and had some time to sort of regroup mentally and prepare for the rigours of the tour,” said McEnroe, who in 1978 led the Stanford team to a college championship and won the NCAA singles title.
“There’s a lot of great upsides, but there’s also pressure you put on yourself and expectations others put on you. I mean that was to me as vanilla as it comes … I was very supportive of her, I thought, at the time.
“You know the papers over in England. Sometimes they make a big deal out of, to me, nothing,
“I don’t think you could possibly do it any better than she did it (at the US Open). That’s insane she’s been able to do this. Of course, pressure comes with that, expectation comes with that. I’m sure she expects to win a lot more moving forward.”
McEnroe had stated that he hopes Raducanu learns from her first Wimbledon experience.