Friday, January 21

Should Emma Raducanu become a brand? Let’s enjoy your genius | Adrian Chiles

There was, to my ears, a jarring note at the award ceremony for the US Open women’s tennis final. It happened when Andrea Lisher, JP Morgan America’s Director, Client, Whatever That Job is, presented Emma Raducanu with a check for $ 2.5 million (£ 1.8 million).

This number was read aloud and with pride. I don’t recall Sue Barker ever presiding over any mention of money at Wimbledon. Until then, I don’t think anyone on this side of the Atlantic, not even our Emma, ​​would have thought twice about the prize money. It was all about a seemingly humble young woman: her fascinating sporting excellence and an all-time triumph.

We are a bit apprehensive on the issue of money; It’s not very British to talk about it. There is a time and a place, of course, but not right there. Sadly though, it didn’t take us long to start talking about the big bucks with the best. As early as Monday afternoon, I was hearing someone named Tess O’Sullivan on a Radio 4 newsletter singing hosannas about money to be made, as loud as the rest of us had been yelling from the rooftops about Raducanu’s amazing tennis. . Fair, this is O’Sullivan’s line of work, and he must be good at it if, as announced, he has negotiated trade deals for David Beckham and Usain Bolt.

Here’s what he said: “I think pretty quickly your sponsorship earnings off the court will dwarf your prize money on the court. She is the most marketable British athlete since David Beckham, because she is the complete package: she is young; It is already gaining millions of followers on social media, increasing its influence as a brand; she has a multicultural background; and he won his grand slam in the United States, one of the most important consumer markets in the world. “

Dear God, is this what Raducanu should become: a brand? Furthermore, a brand whose purpose is to promote other brands? Never mind the glorious shots on the big spots; this girl can change products.

I’m sure your administration will already be receiving irrevocable offers to have your photo taken wearing, say, an extraordinarily expensive watch. Why wouldn’t she? After all, one of the greatest tennis players of all time is among the many who have shown her the way. Roger Federer’s ad for the Rolex Perpetual asks, “How exactly do we measure greatness?” Usefully, to help us solve this puzzle, an answer is suggested: “The number of grand slams?”

Ah yes, that would be it. Health. Wait though, there’s more: “Maybe, but not just …” the voice-over scoffs. What else could it be, you pray? Your personality? Your work ethic? Simple numbers, he explains, “will not show that this man plays tennis more beautifully than anyone else.”

By now, my toes are bending past the point where they can be straightened again. We know what’s coming, right? Brace yourselves: “Federer’s legacy will be more perpetual [aaaaargh] than any number “.

The great man provides a quote: “I used it in the trophy shooting when I won my 15th Grand Slam title, which was a record at the time.” Of Federer, I respectfully ask him, what the fuck? As for Raducanu, I hope the corporate warriors can leave her alone for a while to fight their battles on the court. It will not be easy to match the dizzying standards that it has set itself; she has a lot of tennis to go on. That way, we can all enjoy the sight of his pure and unexplored genius at the helm of the game for a while longer, without thinking about what he is wearing on his wrist.

Adrian Chiles is a columnist for The Guardian

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