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Kate Middleton teams up with Emma Raducanu for doubles match in London
24 September 2021, 16:26 | Updated: 24 September 2021, 16:29
Kate Middleton has joined tennis champion Emma Raducanu on the court as the 18-year-old was officially welcomed home from the US Open.
The pair practised doubles with Joe Salisbury, the US Open mixed doubles and men's doubles champion, and wheelchair players Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.
Both successfully defended their US Open doubles titles.
Before the session, the Duchess of Cambridge praised Ms Raducanu's "seriously impressive" achievement winning the US Open women's title.
"Amazing guys, honestly," said Kate, who is a keen tennis fan, player and patron of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
"Congratulations to all of you - it's seriously impressive."
The 18-year-old star became the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam two weeks ago.
She has been on a whirlwind ride ever since her historic win ended the nation's 44-year wait for a women's Grand Slam champion.
Afterwards, the Duchess of Cambridge tweeted a photo of the group and said she was "in the presence of champions".
In the presence of champions 🏆— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 24, 2021
Congratulations @EmmaRaducanu, @joesalisbury92, @alfiehewett6 and @GordonReid91 on your incredible achievements in this year’s #USOpen.
We are all so proud of you! pic.twitter.com/3b5iF9ktfk
Emma Raducanu announced on Friday she had split from her coach and was seeking an experienced mentor to help guide her through her next steps on tour.
Andrew Richardson previously coached the 18-year-old at Bromley Tennis Centre and was chosen to accompany Raducanu on her US trip because of their familiarity with one another.
Despite the remarkable success their partnership brought, Raducanu has decided she needs a coach with a WTA Tour pedigree.
"Where I was at after Wimbledon, I was ranked around 200 in the world and at the time I thought Andrew would be a great coach to trial so we went to the States but never did I even dream of winning the US Open," said Ms Raducanu, speaking after Friday's LTA homecoming event.
She said she now ranked 22 in the world, which she described as "pretty crazy to me".
"I feel like at this stage in my career, and playing the top players in the world, I realised I really need someone right now that has had that WTA Tour experience at the high levels, which means that I'm looking for someone who has been at that level and knows what it takes," added the 18-year-old.
"And, especially right now because I'm so new to it, I really need someone to guide me who's already been through that."
Ms Raducanu added that she does not yet have anyone in mind - although she is likely to have noted the news that renowned coach Darren Cahill is now a free agent after his split from Simona Halep with interest - and she does not expect to make any decision until the end of the season.
A willingness to work with a number of different coaches has already been a notable feature of Raducanu's fledgling career and she has shown no hesitation in ending a partnership if she feels that is the right move, quickly parting from Nigel Sears after Wimbledon.
On splitting from Mr Richardson, she said: "Obviously having such an experience with your team, it's tough to have that conversation with anyone, but I think for me it's just really what I need."
Raducanu is now back in training and is mulling over where to return to the tour, with the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells - one of the biggest events on the WTA Tour - due to begin on October 6.
She said: "I'll decide in the next few days where I'm going to go to but, wherever I play next, I'm going to make sure I'm ready. I don't want to jump into things too early."
Raducanu's New York success means she has a chance of qualifying for the end-of-season WTA Finals in Guadalajara, which features the top eight players of the year.
She said she "would never even have dreamed of" the WTA finals before because they were "so far out of reach".
"Coming reasonably close to it now it would be great if I qualified but, if not, it's a complete bonus because I'm just way more focused on trying to get myself and my body ready for where I compete next," she said.
"My priority is putting in the best possible pre-season that I can so I can start strong next year."