Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton led the praises for Emma Raducanu after her stunning U.S. Open victory.
Raducanu, 18, made history on Saturday, becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since 1977 and the first qualifier — male or female — to win a major tournament.
Raducanu is a keen motor racing fan who did motorcross and karting as a youngster. She attended July’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone and was driven around the circuit in a McLaren 720s as part of Pirelli’s Hot Laps.
Earlier in the season, Raducanu posted a picture of herself watching a race with the caption: “The Sunday routines that don’t change”.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton led the praises for his compatriot, posting to Instagram on Saturday: “Wow dreams do come true. Well done @emmaraducanu first of many”.
Hamilton spoke about the teenage sensation again during the drivers’ parade ahead of the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
“Just incredible to see her rise,” he said. “The focus that she has, the sheer determination.
“She’s such a sweet person as well. The UK has something to be really proud of in her. Can’t wait to see what she does next.”
When asked if Raducanu would be an inspiration for him during the race, Hamilton, who starts from fourth on the grid, said: “Definitely! You can take inspiration from anyone and she’s definitely an inspiring figure.
“Today I will try to do the country proud as she did. It’s a little bit of a tough order but she just showed everything is possible.”
It wasn’t just Hamilton in the F1 paddock who caught tennis fever on Saturday evening.
McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, who start the race in second and third on the grid, both admitted to staying up later than they were supposed to in order to watch the match in its entirety.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I watched it!” Ricciardo told Sky Sports. “I went past my bedtime last night.
“I started watching it and it was a good game. Just how hard they the ball! I was like – little powerhouses! It was awesome, I couldn’t switch it off. I certainly exceeded my bed time but Emma did great. Really, really good to see.”
British driver Norris, 21, said: “It’s the first ever tennis match I’ve watched from start to finish. Which shows something.
“It was awesome to see. In a similar way it’s relatable, my age, coming into Formula One. It’s cool to see someone bringing it to the big dogs, the more experienced and older players.
“I was rooting for her and I’m glad she pulled it off.”
Williams George Russell also joined the praises for his fellow Briton, although he joked that Raducanu might need to change her allegiance in the future.
“I’ve seen she’s a Formula One fan… a Danny Ric fan… which was a little bit disappointing! Maybe we’ll have to sway her to Lando or I.
“But, huge amount of respect, really well done to her.”
The Italian Grand Prix is live on ESPN2 at 8.55AM ET on Sep. 12.
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