British tennis player defeated Leyla Fernandez of Canada in straight sets on Saturday to become the youngest Grand Slam winner since Maria Sharapova’s Wimbledon win in 2004.
He said he drew inspiration from now-retired Chinese tennis player Li Na, a former world No. 2 player, and “the way she was such a fierce competitor.”
And after his victory on Sunday, he addressed his fans in Mandarin. “Hello everyone, I’d like to say thank you,” she said. “I hope you enjoy watching my tennis. I’m so happy right now… Thank you, I love you!”
She immediately won new fans in China, who praised her performance on the court as well as her pride in her legacy. Many also praised her Mandarin message, pleased with her “cute” northeastern accent – her mother is originally from the city of Shenyang in northeastern Liaoning province.
A user on Chinese forum Weibo said, “Her grandmother in Shenyang should be proud of her, and we in Shenyang are also proud of her.”
Her win was trending on Weibo; one hashtag, “18-year-old ethnic Chinese youth player wins US Open championship,” has garnered over 200 million views, while the video of her Mandarin message has garnered over a million views.
By 2014, China had invested millions of dollars to launch the Wuhan Open, a tennis tournament held in Li’s hometown. In 2016 Wuhan Open co-tournament director Fabrice Chauquet said Li’s victory was “a new era for tennis in China, a new era”.
Now, Radukanu’s resounding victory may inspire a new generation of Chinese tennis players.
“I will show this video to my daughter, hopefully (Emma) can be her role model,” commented one user under Radukanu’s post-match interview, which has been viewed millions of times on Weibo.