England rugby union coach Eddie Jones has written to British tennis star Emma Raducanu explaining his comments suggesting her results had suffered from off-court “distractions” since her stunning US Open triumph in September.
RACQUET REVIEW | Emma Raducanu – the first ever qualifier to win a tennis Grand Slam
Earlier in the week, Jones used Raducanu as an example to warn young flyhalf Marcus Smith not to get distracted.
When probed on 22-year-old Smith’s prospects, Jones said that the youngster would have to stay grounded, making a comparison with 18-year-old Raducanu, who in September became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since 1977.
She was also the first qualifier to win a singles Grand Slam in tennis.
However since winning the US Open, Raducanu has struggled for form, losing in the first round of the Indian Wells Masters event, at the quarter-final stage of the Transylvania Open last month and in the second at the Linz Open this week.
“There’s a reason why the young girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards,” Jones said.
“What have you seen her on – the front page of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar or whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes. All that is a distraction around her.”
Jones’s language was deemed sexist by the likes of former British tennis number one Jo Durie, while others noted Raducanu’s appearance in British Vogue had been before the 18-year-old travelled to New York.
Jones however insisted there was no sexist intent behind his comments and that he had written to Raducanu to explain his comments.
“The whole point was how difficult it is for young players to cope with distractions,” Jones told BBC Sport.
“So the point I made was not wrong. I can’t control it if it’s taken out of context. There was no criticism of Emma,” the Australian added.
“I have sent her a letter just to reinforce that and hopefully we’ll see her at Twickenham shortly.
“I don’t have any misgivings about what I said – I am disappointed it was taken out of context, and I would be disappointed if Emma was upset by it.
“It was deemed as being sexist and that was never the aim of the point.”
Earlier in the week, Raducanu moved into the world’s top 20 for the first time in her career.
Picture: Emma Raducanu – WTA Linz/Twitter