British teenager Emma Raducanu completed the greatest underdog title run in tennis history on Saturday, becoming the first qualifier to capture a Grand Slam crown by defeating Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the US Open women’s final.
The 18-year-old was the first British woman in 44 years to win a Slam crown after beating 19-year-old left-hander Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 to take the $2.5 million (2.1 million euro) top prize.
“I knew I would have to dig deep,” Raducanu said. “It was an incredibly difficult match but I thought the level was really high. I had to play some of my best tennis.”
It was a stunning achievement for the unheralded 150th-ranked teen, who didn’t drop a set in three qualifying matches and seven main-draw matches over two weeks in producing a stunner for the ages.
Raducanu is the youngest Slam champion since Maria Sharapova at 17 in 2004 at Wimbledon.
Not since Virginia Wade in 1977 at Wimbledon had a British woman taken a Slam singles title, with Raducanu, the first Briton to claim the US Open crown since Wade in 1968.
Raducanu is the youngest US Open champion since 17-year-old Serena Williams in 1999 and the first US Open women’s champion not to drop a set since Williams in 2014.
The prodigy showdown was the first all-teen Slam final since Williams beat 18-year-old Martina Hingis for the 1999 US Open title.