Emma Raducanu’s astonishing US Open triumph could lead to a fortune worth around £20 million (US$27.7 million) over the next two years and that may be just the start, according to sports marketing experts.
The 18-year-old Briton was almost unheard before reaching the fourth round at this year’s Wimbledon, having earned around US$40,000 since her senior debut three years ago.
After becoming Britain’s first female Grand Slam champion for 44 years and the new golden girl of women’s tennis, Raducanu’s earning potential is set to enter the stratosphere.
The US$2.5m she picked up in prize money for beating fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in a final that captivated the sporting world may soon seem like loose change.
Raducanu’s mixed Romanian-Chinese heritage, a stunning game, and engaging personality make her “brand gold” according to one sports marketing expert.
She is already a cover girl for British Vogue’s October edition and major global brands in everything from fashion to cars and jewelry will be queuing at the doors of IMG, her management company.
“There is no limit in what she can achieve on the court,” Tim Lopez, director at sports marketing firm CSM, told Reuters yesterday. “She’s hugely in demand already but to follow that up with continued success in the majors in tennis will see her rapidly become one of the most marketable athletes on the planet.”
With its global reach and equal exposure, tennis offers a road to riches for top female players with Japan’s Naomi Osaka earning US$55m, not including prize money, in the past year, according to Forbes magazine. Of the world’s 10 highest-paid sportswomen, nine are tennis players.
Raducanu’s rise from obscurity to having her face plastered on Times Square billboards will have the sports clothing brands vying for her signature.
After Osaka won back-to-back Grand Slam titles in 2018 and 2019, Nike reportedly paid US$10m to take her from rivals Adidas.
Raducanu’s appeal goes beyond the court, according to Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at GlobalData. “Her victory takes her way beyond tennis and sport in terms of marketability,” he told Reuters.
“One of the most impressive things for me was her message in Mandarin for the Chinese audience because the major issue western sports stars have in breaking China is the language barrier. The sky is the limit as any western brand positioning itself in China would be looking at her as an ambassador.”
Wiacek expects Raducanu’s Nike sponsorship deal to be raised significantly and other endorsements will earn her about US$10m over the next two years.
“With her Chinese and eastern Europe heritage as well as Britain, that puts her in a different stratosphere to other athletes,” he said. “I’ve seen it being thrown around that she’s a potential billion-dollar athlete. That’s a long way away.”
Raducanu is represented by super-agent Max Eisenbud who helped turn Russian Maria Sharapova into the highest-earning female athlete after she won Wimbledon aged 18, with off-court career earnings of around US$320m.
...Moves up 127 spots
to #23 in WTA rankings
Raducanu’s qualifier-to-champion run at the US Open vaulted her 127 spots in the WTA rankings to a career-high No. 23 yesterday.
She began the year ranked 345th, rose to 179th in July by reaching Wimbledon’s fourth round in her Grand Slam debut and arrived at Flushing Meadows at 150th.
Then Raducanu won all 20 sets she played across 10 victories—three in qualifying and seven in the main draw—to become the youngest woman to win a major championship since Maria Sharapova, who won at Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of 17.
The player she beat 6-4, 6-3 in the final Saturday, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada, also made a big jump in the rankings, going from 73rd to a career-best 28th.
Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka stayed at Nos. 1 and 2, while 2018 and 2020 US Open champion Naomi Osaka slid from No. 3 to No. 5 after losing in the third round to Fernandez.
Karolina Pliskova is now No. 3, and Elina Svitolina is No. 4 after each moved up a spot by getting to the quarter-finals in New York.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Novak Djokovic is still comfortably ahead of No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the ATP rankings after Medvedev beat Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open men’s final Sunday.
That prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam—and from breaking the men’s career record of 20 major titles he currently shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Asked whether he might adjust his schedule to try to overtake Djokovic by the end of the season, Medvedev replied, “I think, honestly, it’s almost impossible.”
“That’s not my first goal in my mind—to try to achieve it this year,” said Medvedev, a 25-year-old from Russia who was the runner-up to Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open and to Nadal at the 2019 US Open. “If I manage to do it one day, it’s great.”
Two Americans moved into the top 20 for the first time yesterday: Coco Gauff, 17, is No. 19 in the WTA rankings, while Reilly Opelka, 24, is No. 19 in the ATP rankings.