First qualifier to win a tennis Grand Slam singles title (open era)
Emma Raducanu
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United States (New York)

Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu (UK, b. Canada, 13 November 2002) won the 2021 US Open after coming through three qualifying rounds and seven main-draw matches – and all without dropping a set. The teenage sensation started her qualifying campaign at Flushing Meadows on 25 August, ranked 150 in the world, and went on to defeat 11th seed Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals and 17th seed Maria Sakkari in the semi-finals before prevailing 6-4, 6-3 against Canada’s world number 73, Leylah Fernandez (b. 6 September 2002), in the final on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City, USA, on 11 September. In a high-quality final featuring two players with a combined age of 37 years 307 days, Raducanu captured the first WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) title of her career in just her second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament and in her fourth WTA event overall, collecting $2.5 million (£1.8 million) in the process.

Raducanu’s route to the US Open title: Qualifying (as 31st seed) Round 1, beat Bibiane Schoofs 6-1, 6-2; Qualifying Round 2, beat Mariam Bolkvadze 6-3, 7-5; Qualifying Round 3, beat Mayar Sherif (4th seed in qualifying) 6-1, 6-4; Round 1 (main draw), beat Stefanie Vögele 6-2, 6-3; Round 2, beat Shuai Zhang 6-2, 6-4; Round 3, beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 6-1; Round 4, beat Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1; Quarter-final, beat Belinda Bencic (11th seed) 6-3, 6-4; Semi-final, beat Maria Sakkari (17th seed) 6-1, 6-4; Final, beat Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3. Sets won: 20; Sets lost: 0; Games won: 121; Games lost: 50.

Raducanu’s astonishing victory at Flushing Meadows saw her rise to a new world ranking of 23 (from 150 at the start of qualifying). She was the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, and the first British woman to win the US Open singles since 1968, when Wade claimed the first of her three Grand Slam titles.