Friday 19 January 2024

Anxiety plagues Emma Raducanu rather than physical health problems

I believe that Emma Raducanu's retirement from tournaments because of all too frequent mystery physical illnesses are sometimes perhaps often caused by anxiety.

I've lost count of the number of times that Emma Raducanu has retired from a tennis match. Before she had her three operations - each wrist and a foot - and after her spectacular US Open win, she dropped out of about four tournaments because of so-called physical illnesses. I remember her dropping out of Wimbledon (before she won the US Open) because she was breathless.

Compared to other professional tennis players, female and male, she has more health ailments than almost any of them if not all of them. It is quite noticeable. The underlying cause needs to be addressed.

Update 6th Feb 2024: Raducanu has said that she is not too concerned about her tournament results this year. This seems to me to be an attempt to take the heat off herself. This in turn supports my thought that she is an anxious player and it often affects the match outcome.

Anxiety plagues Emma Raducanu rather than physical health problems
Emma Raducanu feeling sick during her second round match at the Australian Open. Image: Sky News.

And she has had various muscular ailments forcing retirement. The world knows about them because they have been incredibly well covered by the news media.

Her most recent health problem has also been well-publicised. She was playing in the Australian Open as all tennis fans know. She was playing a second round match against a woman who was ranked 94. 

Emma Raducanu probably felt before the match that she should beat her. Okay, Emma is ranked below this lady because of a long absence but her potential is much higher than her current ranking and therefore her expectations would have been to progress well beyond the second round of this tournament. The public would expect and hope the same. This points to expectation pressures.

She was beaten because she said that she felt sick in the third set. As I recall, it was in the second game of the third set when she was 30-0 up when she said that she felt like vomiting. She felt sick and vomit was coming up into her mouth she said.

After that she called a doctor and there was a pause in play and she carried on. She was treated at the courtside within the rules of tennis.

Anxiety causing physical symptoms

Quick research indicates to me that anxiety can cause:
  • nausea as experienced by Emma Raducanu in the Australian open recently
  • breathlessness as experienced by her at Wimbledon
  • muscular tension. Raducanu has experienced muscle problems in her abdomen for example.
These are good examples of how anxiety can cause physical symptoms as I state.

Are these always physical ailments?

But bearing in mind all these physical ailments, I personally cannot believe that they are actually physical ailments. I believe that perhaps some of them are but some of them are due to anxiety. Professional tennis at this level is incredibly competitive.

There are enormous expectations on Emma Raducanu because she is the only qualifier, male or female, to win a Grand Slam tournament. Perhaps she had hoped that the long break for her recovery from her operations would release her from those expectations. But they haven't.

The demands of these expectations are, I believe, making her anxious to the point where she feels sick. And they are also having other effects on her mental health to the point, where I believe she finds an excuse to retire from a match that she believes she might lose. 

She is not doing this consciously. It's a subconscious process converting anxiety, a mental health problem, into a physical problem.

Nobody has discussed this at all perhaps out of politeness. And I want to be very respectful of this woman. If I am correct it's entirely understandable. Recently, another tennis player, Caroline Garcia, discussed her acute anxiety with the news media. I am sure that it's a problem or at least a potential issue with all tennis players both male and female.

It just depends how you cope with it and that's why the top players have sports psychologists. I know that the top Italian player, Jannik Sinner, has a sports psychologist who has done some really good work with him and his game has improved to the point where he is expected to win a Grand Slam.

So, in conclusion, I believe that Emma Raducanu's retirement from tournaments because of mystery illnesses, occurring far too often, are underpinned or are caused by anxiety.

Note: I am neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist. I am just applying common sense and expressing an opinion


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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