US Open champion Emma Raducanu admits her life has been “surreal” over the past 12 months as she returns to the scene of her first WTA Tour appearance this week.
The teenager, fresh from completing her end-of-school exams, made her senior debut in the first round of last year’s Nottingham Open, where she was beaten in straight sets by fellow Briton Harriet Dart.
After catching the eye during a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon, she became a global star by winning the US Open in September.
“To come back 12 months later full circle knowing what happened is pretty surreal,” she said on Monday.
“It is where it started over for me and I am proud of what I have achieved over the last 12 months.
“It signifies the start of a journey for me. It wasn’t the most positive week results-wise but I learned a lot and it definitely set me in good stead for the rest of the season. I felt I built on that every single week.”
Raducanu’s rise to prominence is shown by the fact she was asked to send Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II a message for the just-concluded Platinum Jubilee celebrations
The British player, who is still only 19, says there have been challenges after achieving success so early in her career.
Her failure to settle on a long-term coach, fitness issues and results come under constant scrutiny but she said she was not being “so hard on myself” as she settles into life on the tour.
“I’m trusting what I’m doing and the work I’m doing,” said the second seed, who plays Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic in her opener at the grass-court tournament on Tuesday.
“I’m still 19 and I’ve already won a Grand Slam so I can take my time and put things in place because I know my motivation isn’t any less.
“It is still as much but it isn’t always going to be smooth sailing where you just clean up every week. I trust what I do.”
The 11th-ranked player said: “I don’t think anyone would say, ‘I wish I didn’t wish a Grand Slam at 18’ because that is what I set out to do when I started playing tennis — and I did that.
“For that to happen very soon definitely comes with a lot of challenges but managing, learning and growing through the adversities that I have faced, I would much rather have that, learn from those experiences and keep building and progressing.
“I am doing the work from that because I did it a bit backwards.”