John McEnroe on controversial Emma Raducanu comments: ‘I wouldn’t say anything different’

John McEnroe says he does not regret the comments he made about Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon last year when he questioned if she could handle the pressure.

Raducanu made a stunning breakthrough at SW19 that took her all the way to a match on Centre Court. However, she had what appeared to be an anxiety attack that left her struggling to breathe and she walked away from the match.

“I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” McEnroe told the BBC at the time. “It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with Osaka not even here.

“How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long – how well they can handle it. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”

However, reflecting on those comments in the Daily Mail, McEnroe opted to stand by them: “I wouldn’t say anything different.

“I’ve never met Emma I was just giving an educated guess as to what I thought was happening, based on 40 or 45 years being around the professional game.

“It happens all the time. It’s not like she’s the first person it’s happened to, this has been going on as far back as when I was playing.

“Naomi Osaka’s had issues with mental health. You were supposed to grit your teeth and bare it and get through it and tough it out and this type of stuff.

“Now it’s becoming more of a discussion point, rightfully so. A lot of times for these young guys and girls, it’s a lot to deal with when they’re not prepared to.

Emma Raducanu backhand at Roland Garros

“It’s a dream, but it’s also can be quite difficult, like overwhelming.

“Simona Halep said she had the first panic attack of her life playing at the French Open. So this is something that’s being discussed more and more.

“I was trying to be supportive of her without exactly knowing what was happening. And I felt bad for her. And I was amazed that she was able to come out of that and suddenly win the US Open.

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“I’m on her side. Just for the good of the game, I’d like to see her be able to reach her potential.”

John McEnroe has never been one to shy away from controversy either as a player or a pundit, and it is that personality as much as anything that has endeared him to so many.

He has revealed, though, that even he once succumbed to the pressures of Wimbledon during his glorious playing career when he skipped the tournament in 1986 and 1987.

“I went through stuff, I was overwhelmed at times. I didn’t play Wimbledon for two years.

“I felt like it was too much for me. We don’t sit and discuss that that often. But I chose not to go. Do I wish that I’d done that now? No, I wish I had played in a way.

“I gave up two opportunities to play for something that no one remembers, basically, and maybe some of it was stubbornness, some of it may have been stupidity, but some of it was because it was feeling like it was too much to handle. I feel like I generally could handle a lot.”

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