Tennis star’s US Open victory turns into ‘race-baiting’ debate on diversity and immigration

Emma Raducanu’s victory at the US Open on Saturday was celebrated by many in Britain, though a focus on her race and background turned the celebrations into debates on diversity.

Raducanu’s victory earned praise from some of Britain’s highest officials, including Queen Elizabeth II who called the victory over fellow teen Leylah Fernandez a “remarkable achievement.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was in a similarly celebratory mood over the win by the 18-year-old: “Emma Radacanu's story is London's story,” Khan tweeted. “Born in Canada to Chinese and Romanian parents, she moved to London at two-years-old.”

Khan added that London celebrates its “diversity,” and by working hard and “getting a helping hand, you can achieve anything.”

His tweet triggered numerous critics, with the liberal mayor being accused of “race baiting” and taking attention away from Raducanu’s accomplishment to make his own political points. 

The tweet was quickly dragged on Twitter as Khan was accused of simply using the victory to promote his pro-migrant position, using the teenage athlete as little more than a prop.

“No one cares about anything other than this fantastic day for Emma and [Britain],” activist and actor Laurence Fox tweeted in response to Khan, adding, “she’s as British as you or I.”

Others pointed out that Khan was in more of a rush to make his point than to even make sure he spelled the young star’s name correctly.

“Whilst you’re race baiting, you could at least get the spelling of her name right,” pundit Abi Roberts tweeted

Much of the talk around Raducanu’s victory devolved into debates about race, as many activists chose to focus on the athlete’s ethnic background in order to prop up her win and push their immigration agendas. 

“Get in. Emma Raducanu the immigrant from a Romanian, Chinese, Canadian family grand slams the haters. This is the Britain we love,” activist and reporter Adil Ray tweeted, a message that was similarly met with swift backlash.

“The only haters out there are race-baiters like @adilray who, with crushing predictably, have turned the finest British tennis performance in living memory into a pointless rant about immigration & division,” Martin Daubney, deputy director of the Reclaim Party, tweeted in response. 

“Stop trying to cause division where there is none,” actor and activist Matthew Marsden added.

Even commentator and former leader of UKIP and Brexit Party Nigel Farage, who has a history of comments critical of immigration, called Raducanu a “global superstar” following her victory, a simple message compared to others, but one that received lashings for its political implications, as well as Farage’s own history of previous comments. 

After winning the US Open women’s singles final on Saturday, Raducanu has become the first British woman to hold the title in over 50 years. She is also the first British woman in 44 years to win a Grand Slam singles title. 

While others have debated her background and how relevant it is to her victory, she revealed she hasn’t paid attention to the conversations around the US Open.

“I still haven’t checked my phone. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on outside of the little world that we’re in here. We’ve just been in the quiet room, just enjoying the moment, taking it all in,” she said. “I think today we just really need to shut out from everything, just enjoy it as a team, because it was a team effort.”

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