The strapping former tennis protégé who Emma Raducanu has known since she was six and has been the rock at her side during her stratospheric rise in New York – while even her parents were forced to stay at home
- US’s Covid travel rules meant UK’s latest tennis superstar was robbed of chance to celebrate with her family
- Yet it seems there was some support from back home in the Big Apple after all, the Daily Mail can now reveal
- Miss Raducanu was cheered on to victory in New York City by a friend that she has known since the age of six
- Former tennis protege Benjamin Heynold, 19, has been by Miss Raducanu’s side throughout her stunning rise
As their teenage daughter made history in the US Open, Emma Raducanu‘s parents had to make do with watching it all on TV.
America’s tough Covid travel rules meant Britain’s latest tennis superstar was robbed of the chance to celebrate with her family.
Yet it seems there was some support from back home in the Big Apple after all – for the Mail can reveal that Miss Raducanu was cheered on to victory by a friend she’s known since the age of six.
Former tennis protege Benjamin Heynold, 19, has been by Miss Raducanu’s side throughout her stunning – and swift – rise to global stardom, having moved to the US to study.
Raducanu shares posts of her at the Met Gala
Emma Raducanu has shared two photographs of her at the Met Gala.
The young tennis sensation posted the pictures on Tuesday of her time during the event on Monday.
She wrote next to two pictures of her in a Chanel dress: ‘About last night…’
Following her victory at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday, Miss Raducanu, 18, posed with her old pal for a photo beneath a Manhattan billboard celebrating the city’s new Grand Slam star.
Mr Heynold posted the image on social media along with a heartwarming picture of the pair as young children holding tennis medals.
The caption? ‘History.’
The friends met more than a decade ago through their mutual love of the sport, playing together in competitions across the country in the junior ranks and both making the Great Britain squad.
In 2017 the pair had their first taste of playing in front of a large crowd, taking part in a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall.
The day saw them pose for a photo with former British number one Greg Rusedski, who this week backed Miss Raducanu to win multiple Grand Slams.
While Miss Raducanu bagged her first trophy at the weekend, Mr Heynold appears to have pursued a different path.
Once tipped for sporting stardom himself, he is understood to have taken a step back from top-level tennis and is now studying in the US.
That allowed him to be by his childhood friend’s side – unlike Miss Raducanu’s family back in Bromley.
While she grew up in south-east London, Mr Heynold – the son of a managing director at an international investment banking firm – was raised in a sprawling private estate near Chertsey, Surrey.
He was educated at TASIS England – formerly known as The American School – where day fees for secondary school pupils start at around £20,000, rising to almost £50,000 for boarders.
Miss Raducanu has also found some time for an Old Etonian, too – for yesterday saw the Prime Minister speak to the tennis sensation for the first time following her stunning victory.
Boris Johnson congratulated Miss Raducanu in a phone call as she continued to soak up the atmosphere in New York following her debut at the Met Gala.
A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘praised her determination, skill and mental strength during a series of tough matches, and said the whole of the UK had united behind her success’.
They added: ‘Both the Prime Minister and Emma agreed on the importance of continuing to support grassroots tennis, and in encouraging young people to take up the game.’
So who WAS the belle of the Ball? It’s advantage Emma Raducanu as she wears Chanel to mingle with showbiz elite at Met Gala in New York
Alison Boshoff and Jennifer Ruby
She’s expected to return to her family home today – that unremarkable three-bedroomed semi in Bromley.
The 18-year-old burst into the fashion spotlight in a dazzling, midriff-baring, monochrome Chanel outfit designed by Virginie Viard – with a rope of pearls encircling her waist and more Tiffany diamonds sparkling in her ears at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Personally invited by Vogue chief Dame Anna Wintour, 71, she was seated on the $500,000 Chanel table with its celebrity ambassadors.
Dame Anna may be the most influential woman in fashion, but she’s also a huge tennis fan who has befriended Roger Federer.
And how she must have gnashed her teeth when Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue, snapped up an exclusive interview with Miss Raducanu for his October issue.
However, the Covid-delayed £20,000-a-ticket Met Gala Ball gave Dame Anna the perfect chance to stake her own claim to this most glamorous of young tennis champions.
It would seem a fair bet that Miss Raducanu will be gracing the pages of US Vogue soon. Other tennis stars present included Emma’s opponent in the final, Leylah Fernandez, and Naomi Osaka – who sported a bizarre multi-coloured ensemble.
Overnight tennis sensation Miss Raducanu was suddenly rubbing shoulders with global superstars.
Some opted for truly outlandish looks, including Kim Kardashian, 40, who wore a black Balenciaga all-in-one outfit that covered every inch of skin. And Blondie veteran Debbie Harry, 76, arrived in a patriotic red, white and blue ensemble that mirrored a shabby American flag.
British actresses including Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan and Sienna Miller also put their best fashion foot forward.
Miss Mulligan, 36, wore a hot pink Valentino gown while Miss Blunt, 38, was inspired by the Statue of Liberty in a crystal Miu Miu gown with a white cape draped over her shoulders.
Miss Miller, 39, paired a golden Gucci gown with a fur coat that trailed behind her.
The theme for this year’s event was In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. Miss Raducanu’s cool and youthful ensemble from Chanel’s 2021/22 Cruise collection was matched with £33,000 marquise and pear-cut diamond Schlumberger Tiffany earrings, and three Tiffany rings: a £14,400 Victoria 18k rose gold and diamond ring; a T True narrow ring in 18k rose gold with pave diamonds, £3,600; and a Victoria ring in 18k rose gold with diamonds, £5,075.
She has worn their jewellery throughout the tournament.
But the key moments of the evening came when guests got up from their tables and mingled.
On Monday, the teenage champ had a long chat with British Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. It appears he congratulated her before discussing where she goes from here and her experiences so far.
Emma is a keen motor racing fan who did motocross and karting as a youngster and attended July’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
So who better than Hamilton, 36, whose sporting trajectory took him from Stevenage, Hertfordshire to Monaco, to advise new millionaire Miss Raducanu?
Representatives for Chanel yesterday declined to comment when asked if she was set to join their ranks as an ambassador.
Additional reporting: Daniel Bates in New York