Tennis star Emma Raducanu is the latest pro-athlete to be warned about the dangers of social media usage. The US Open winner, who is now 20, has struggled since her heroics back in 2021 and is in danger of becoming lost in the social media matrix.
Raducanu has raked in millions for her deserved US Open win, yet her career has yet to properly kick on. As worrying as this is, she’s not the only one to fall for this trap. Footballers are particularly susceptible to the delusions of grandeur and lucrative sponsorships so common on platforms like Instagram, and the young tennis star should look to them if she wants a warning.
Former Olympic champion Monica Puig urged Raducanu to take her mind off the digital platforms and instead focus on getting back to her on-the-court best. Puig stated: ‘’I didn't have as much media attention as she does and I can only imagine coming from the UK where something like that is so big. It just exploded.’’
Puig added: ‘’Don't focus on social media because we all know that social media is a great tool to boost your brand but it can be toxic, especially for a person like Raducanu’’, and I couldn’t agree with her more. Highly-paid deals with Nike, British Airways, Dior, Wilson, and Tiffany & Co. have made Raducanu millions, yet her exploits on the tennis court have stagnated.
You’ll know by now that I’m not a big fan of social media, and I believe athletes’ use of it can easily backfire if they’re not careful. You may remember Joleon Lescott’s infamous Twitter gaff in 2016, where the then-Aston Villa defender ‘accidentally’ shared a photo of his brand new Mercedes immediately after a 6-0 thrashing to Liverpool.
The mistake was labelled a ‘pocket Tweet’ in a flimsy excuse by Lescott, but Villa’s salt-of-the-earth fans considered it a rude and decadent display of wealth. Jesse Lingard was another footballer whose social media usage made him an easy target for jaded fans. To put it bluntly, social media has the power to alienate an athlete from their fans, and no amount of sponsorship deals can paper over the cracks in their image.
Pierre Emrick Abuamayeng’s ‘’nothing personal’’ Twitter message quickly backfired, too, as the former Arsenal star is currently languishing at mid-table Chelsea. To make matters even worse for him, his old club are now at the top of the league.
I sincerely hope that Emma Raducanu gets back to her best and that she spends her hours practicing her serves instead of mastering the selfie. The young star deserves to reap the rewards from her shock US Open win, but she can’t let that tournament represent the pinnacle of her career.
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