Emma Raducanu is loving life. The 2021 US Open champion has enjoyed a whirlwind 72 hours that saw her become the first qualifier in the Open Era to win a major and become the first British woman to win a Slam since Virginia Wade in 1977.
Since winning her 20th consecutive set in New York on Saturday night, she's done the morning talk show rounds, crossed off a bucket-list item with a visit to the New York Stock Exchange - her parents are in finance and one of her A level subjects was Economics - and only been invited by Chanel to the most exclusive part of the year at the Met Gala.
Raducanu spoke to WTA Insider by phone Tuesday to try and make sense of her sudden and stratospheric rise and look ahead at what's in store for her future.
WTA Insider: How are you feeling 72 hours after winning the US Open?
Raducanu: I feel great. Everything that's happened in the last 72 hours has been so much fun and really exciting. It's been busy, but I can't complain at all because I've just been having such an amazing time and experience in New York. I've got some amazing opportunities and I'm just really grateful to be able to do the things I've been doing.
I'm just really happy. It still hasn't really sunk in, but occasionally I'll remember that I won the US Open (laughs). So yeah, a really funny feeling.
WTA Insider: When you were imagining where tennis would take you when you thought about playing professional tennis, is this what it looked like in your head?
Raducanu: When I was younger I never imagined that all of the amazing opportunities off the court existed. When I was younger and I watched older players win Slams, that was just the dream, the Slam on its own, the achievement, sharing it with the team and relatives and friends. But it's just an added bonus, isn't it, all of the really cool things you get to do.
I think for me, still, I cherish the most the moments with the team after the Grand Slam win. I think that was probably the most special night ever, when we were reflecting and just chatting about the last three weeks, the trip, and it was just a really nice moment to have shared with everyone.
WTA Insider: You just pulled off something that literally no one else in the history of the sport has done, winning a major as a qualifier. How do you think you did it?
Raducanu: I was hungry (laughs).
WTA Insider: Eighteen months away from the sport will do that.
Raducanu: Having 18 months away from the sport, coming out you play every match like you don't know when your last match will be. That was how I was approaching the whole summer. I was so grateful to be back on the match court competing again and the joy and satisfaction that I was getting from the improvements I was seeing with every match was spurring me on, building every time, every match. And then I played some of the best tennis of my life at the end of the seven weeks.
But the biggest thing is that I never once got ahead of myself. For three weeks I just played the opponent in front of me. I took care of what I wanted to try and achieve on that day against that opponent and just repeated it for three weeks. I played some really great tennis against some extremely tough opponents and faced a lot of adversity despite the fact that I didn't drop a set. Those sets could have gone either way, a lot of them, because they were very tight games and the margins are so small.
WTA Insider: You've spoken a lot about your parents and the work ethic and values that they instilled in you. Do you feel like you see this world or your career differently based on the values your parents have instilled in you?
Raducanu: I think the thing my parents have taught me by being very critical is that I have very high expectations of myself and high standards. I think that's a good thing overall, but it can also be damaging sometimes because you expect so much from yourself and you want to be perfect but it's impossible to be perfect. So I think it's just cutting myself slack that I need to improve on.
But I think those standards and the work ethic that they've instilled in me from their own backgrounds definitely has helped because I really push myself to the max every time I step on the court. Every day, I'm really trying to maximize what I've got and maximize my potential.
WTA Insider: After Iga Swiatek finished school and committed to the tour full-time she thought that if she didn't hit a certain ranking goal in two seasons, she would go to college. Then she won Roland Garros. When you finished school and were looking at being a full-time pro, did you have any similar thoughts about school or is this what you wanted to do?
Raducanu: For sure this is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a professional tennis player and play week in and week out, play on the tour, play the Slams, and my dream of winning one. But I always stayed in school. Education was a big part of my life and helped me in many ways.
But I didn't put a time frame on it, like if I didn't make X ranking I wouldn't carry on with tennis. I would say that I did have that back up with my education and my exams and I always knew that if tennis wasn't working out or a freak injury happened and I couldn't continue, then I knew I had another option.
I would have probably loved what I would have done if I didn't play tennis, but not as much as being on the tour for sure.
WTA Insider: What was it like to jump from the top of the tennis world into all these experiences of doing talk shows and attending the Met Gala?
Raducanu: I think that it's really cool to be able to meet people and interact with people in different industries. At the Met Gala everyone is so experienced and so accomplished in their own way and it was really cool to hear how they are and their perspective on things. It was quite an eye-opening experience.
I think that I don't find anything too intimidating, I think? It's just quite a nice thing to do because I'm learning so much about myself and what's happening in the whole process of trying to adjust to things I probably wouldn't have done before. But I've had fun doing the things I've done so far.
WTA Insider: What have you learned about yourself in handling everything so far?
Raducanu: It was funny because I was more nervous standing and waiting to take the photos at the Met than going out onto Ashe (laughs). Because it was such a different experience. It was a bit more intimidating at the start but then I feel like I've learned that I can adapt quite quickly and learn on the job (laughs).
WTA Insider: Have you had a chance to sit down with your team and look ahead at when you want to get back to training and what the rest of the season looks like?
Raducanu: Yeah, I think after the US Open I wanted to give myself this week to completely switch off from tennis because it's been an extremely intense but rewarding seven weeks. But I've worked very hard to finish on such a high with the US Open, a whole week off was needed.
I know I'll get back to work probably Monday or early next week to get back to training again. Schedule-wise, I'm not sure. Maybe Indian Wells, I don't know. I'm going back to London before my next tournament for sure.