Flavia Pennetta on Emma Raducanu’s rapid rise: “In my day it could never have happened”


Retired Italian tennis star Flavia Pennetta isn’t impressed with the current state of women’s tennis and believes that a player of Emma Raducanu’s caliber could never have won a Grand Slam back in her day.

Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta on the current state of women’s tennis

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pennetta commented on present-day women’s tennis:

I do not like it. What is happening, this very strong discontinuity, in my opinion is not good for tennis.

Flavia Pennetta on Emma Raducanu’s overnight success

The first Italian to crack the Top 10 in the WTA singles rankings and the first Italian ranked No.1 in doubles commented on 18-year-old Emma Raducanu’s recent US Open victory:

In my day it could never have happened that a girl who played qualifying, like Emma Raducanu did in New York, could win a Grand Slam. Top athletes made too much difference. There is something wrong. Charisma is missing, so women’s tennis is more difficult to sell.

The highlight of Pennetta’s illustrious career was definitely the 2015 US Open singles triumph, when she defeated compatriot and childhood friend Roberta Vinci in the final. That was not the only Grand Slam trophy the Italian lifted, as she also won the 2011 Australian Open women’s doubles title with Argentina’s Gisela Dulko.

International Tennis Hall of Fame

Pennetta’s consistent career with major trophies in both singles and doubles has been recognized by the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She is among the Class of 2022 nominees, alongside Ana Ivanovic, Cara Black, Lisa Raymond, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and her ex-boyfriend Carlos Moya.

Clashing with Moya is funny, it makes me laugh: he will be a tough nut to crack because he stayed on the circuit with Rafa and enjoys great visibility. Ferrero worries me less.

Is comeback possible?

Pennetta is currently expecting her third child with husband Fabio Fognini. A comeback is definitely not in the books for the 39-year-old. Commenting on Kim Clijsters’ return, Pennetta said:

Noooo. I understand the desire to try again, because the adrenaline of the match can no longer be found anywhere. I would no longer have the mental strength to stay on the pitch.


  1. I’m not clear from this what her point is. Is she saying that there aren’t enough good players to beat someone like Raducanu? And what is this stuff about charisma and how does it relate to winning slams? It’s not the first time an outlier has won a slam by any means, and Flavia herself was one of them. It’s true that in the women’s game there isn’t quite the same consistency there is in the men’s, where a few people win everything, but frankly, it makes things more interesting. Who will be on form today? Who will have a moment of inspiration? Will there be a surprise? Though I can do without the obsession with some new young star that hasn’t proved themselves beyond an initial win.

  2. I voted for Flavia, Ana, and Carlos for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Didn’t know that Pennetta once dated Moya.

  3. CLT, she is saying that there is no gap between top players and up-and-comers, that everyone can beat everyone, and that in her time it was really hard to beat top players. Because of that she thinks that women’s tennis lacks charisma at the moment. That’s how I understand her words.

    The narrative about women’s tennis being inconsistent in a way that no one is unbeatable has been around since way before Flavia retired, so it’s not like she played in a completely different era.

    Jim, yes she dated Carlos Moya for a long time and he cheated on her. She was completely lost when they broke up, she explained it in her autobiography.

  4. I agree with Pennetta POV, anybody can beat anybody now in WTA, i dont see any consistency. People will not give high respect to top ranking players anymore.
    I miss Serena Maria Vika eras, they were so consistent during their peaks, winning slams follow by winning mandatory titles or at least run deep in the next tourns.

  5. Ian, but in that same era, there was a lot of talk about top-ranked players without Grand Slam titles: Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, and Caroline Wozniacki, who eventually did with a major much later in her career. What I’m saying is that women’s tennis has somehow always been criticized.

  6. My favorite Flavia comment was after she and Moya broke up. When questioned by a reporter, she was asked how she is coping. She said I’m OK, I’m still having sex!


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