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Emma Raducanu’s agent insists the US Open champion is not distracted by commercial interests.
Max Eisenbud, who also guided the careers of Maria Sharapova and Li Na, says Raducanu’s win in New York sparked unprecedented interest in the business world.
And he maintains that his company IMG has “taken millions of dollars off the table” by limiting Raducanu to a maximum of 18 sponsorship days a year.
“We could have done 50 days of filming,” Eisenbud he told The Sports Desk podcast.
“I have never seen the amount of enthusiasm and companies that wanted to do business with Emma after the US Open.”
Raducanu is a brand ambassador for nine companies, from Evian to Tiffany and Nike to HSBC.
The contracts run for three to five years and are worth tens of millions of pounds.
However, Raducanu’s year on the pitch so far has been less than profitable. The 19-year-old has won just eight of the 19 games she has played so far this season and has experienced a number of minor injuries.
But Eisenbud says people shouldn’t link those difficulties to their business interests.
“It’s been a tough year,” he admitted. “I think he was very unlucky and what really hurt him was [catching] Covid and not having a great off season, and then he was trying to catch up.
“But I think if she didn’t have shooting dates, everything would be the same.
“I know on the outside, you guys want to see all that stuff, but if he locked himself in the room for the whole year and didn’t do anything, I think it would be the same thing.”
Eisenbud says this is his third professional experience of something “spectacular, special and not normal.”
The other two were 17-year-old Sharapova, who beat Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final, and Li was watched by an estimated 116 million Chinese viewers as she captured her first Grand Slam title at the 2011 French Open.
Eisenbud remembers renting a room for a meeting with Sharapova’s father, Yuri, shortly after her 2004 center court triumph. He says Yuri wanted to capitalize on his daughter’s win, but also make sure she stayed focused and keep winning.
The American’s response was to draw up a schedule and then draw a line through all the weeks, primarily before, during and immediately after a tournament, in which they both agreed there was no time for commercial work.
“So we did this year-round exercise and realized there were probably 18 days a year that she can give to sponsors that won’t affect her tennis training or her tournament schedule,” Eisenbud said of a player who for For a decade she was consistently the highest-earning female athlete in the world.
A few years later, Li’s family decided they liked the sound of that approach, and it’s a model that has now been accepted by Raducanus.
“Once again with the same philosophy,” Eisenbud continued. “Never a week before a tournament, never in a tournament week and never right after the tournament. I understand how people who don’t understand that philosophy might think it’s distracting her, but I think when you see how it’s presented, that’s really not the case.
“Emma decided that she wants to start her photo shoots at 12 or 1 pm and continue until 8 or 9 pm and have the option to train or exercise in the morning.
“They haven’t taken advantage of every day of the 18. There are sponsors who have those days, but many of them don’t take advantage of them.
“I imagine that by the end of the year the number of days he uses will be around 13.
“But when the 19th comes around, and it’s millions of dollars and you have to say ‘no’ because you’re staying true to 18 days, it’s hard.”