The BBC commentator John McEnroe has come under fire after suggesting that Emma Raducanu found playing in the last 16 of Wimbledon “a little too much” after she retired from the match on medical grounds.
The three-times men’s champion was criticised by Raducanu’s opponent, Ajla Tomljanovic, as well as by doctors on social media, after suggesting the 18-year-old from Britain had not been able to handle the occasion.
Raducanu appeared to suffer stomach cramps and be hyperventilating before pulling out at 0-3 down in the second set. It was later confirmed she had withdrawn with breathing problems, but post-match McEnroe drew parallels with Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon because of depression and anxiety.
“I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” said McEnroe. “It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with Osaka not even here.
“How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long – how well they can handle it. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”
McEnroe also suggested the late start had contributed to Raducanu’s situation. “I don’t think it helped that the previous match went as long as it did because it made her think about it more,” he added. “That’s a lot to take on, especially when you’ve never been there before.”
However, he also suggested that the manner of her loss would stand her in good stead in the future. “Maybe it’s not a shame this has happened right now when she is 18,” he said. “I played this tournament at 18 and in a way I was happy I lost. I was able to understand what it would take to make it.
After being told about McEnroe’s comments, Tomljanovic said they were “definitely harsh”.
“I can’t imagine being in her shoes at 18 playing a fourth round in your home country,” she added. “It’s something I can’t even imagine. For him to say that, it’s definitely harsh. I have experienced something similar but not to that extent. I know that it’s a real thing. I’ve spoken to athletes that have gone through that. It’s not easy.”
McEnroe was also criticised on social media with Dr Alex George, an A&E doctor, tweeting: “I didn’t realise John McEnroe was medically qualified or that he has X-ray vision!”