Kate Middleton Hits the Court with U.S. Open Champ Emma Raducanu: The Royal Mom's 'Forehand Is Incredible!'

Emma Raducanu was among a group of young stars meeting the Duchess of Cambridge on Friday

The Duchess Of Cambridge Meets British US Open Champions
Kate Middleton and Emma Raducanu on Sept. 24, 2021. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for LTA

Queens of the court!

Royal tennis fan Kate Middleton and 18-year-old British champion Emma Raducanu came face to face on Friday morning. Kate and 2021 U.S. Open women's singles winner Raducanu chatted at the National Tennis Centre in southwest London before pairing up for a quick doubles game.

Raducanu — who shot to fame at Wimbledon and then surprised the tennis world by being the first woman to enter via the qualifying rounds and progress all the way to the pinnacle of the sport at the U.S. Open in New York earlier this month — was among a group of young tennis stars including Joe Salisbury, Alfie Hewitt and Gordon Reid who were celebrated by Kate.

"How many Grand Slam titles have we got on the court?" Sam Richardson, the Lawn Tennis Association head of programs, exclaimed as they started playing.

As they began the match, Richards encouraged the players to curb their competitiveness. But that appeared to be quickly ignored: "It's getting competitive already!" he said after one rally.

At one point, Richardson praised Kate for winning a "lovely point!" She later told reporters, "her forehand is incredible."

The Duchess Of Cambridge Meets British US Open Champions
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Talking afterward, Richardson said he was "pleasantly surprised" by Kate's proficiency. "I think she was perhaps a bit nervous, as anyone would be coming on against four Grand Slam champions," he said. "But she held her own — she was brilliant. I think she hit two shots that landed plum on the line. That's a pretty good shot. She looked like she was having a good time,and was playing well."

Of Raducanu and Kate, he said, "They seemed to gel quite well and be having a good time together."

Joe Salisbury, who notched two titles at the U.S. Open — men's doubles and mixed doubles — told reporters, "It was really good fun. I was very impressed by Kate's level. She obviously loves it and has played a lot before, but it was good fun to be on court with her. Her forehand was very good."

The Duchess Of Cambridge Meets British US Open Champions
Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images

As well as the homecoming celebration, Kate, who is patron of the Lawn Tennis Association, also met teenagers from around the U.K. The young athletes are playing tennis at a grassroots level as part of the LTA Youth program, which aims to encourage participation in the sport and inspire the next generation of players.

The program's goal is to help more children enjoy the benefits of playing and staying in tennis, regardless of age, gender, ability, disability or background.

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The Duchess Of Cambridge Meets British US Open Champions
Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"Her Royal Highness is passionate about supporting grassroots tennis and encouraging young people from all backgrounds to become involved in the sport," Princess Kate's office said.

When Raducanu beat Leylah Fernandez to win the singles final, Kate tweeted that her journey to the top had been a "pleasure to watch." Raducanu also received a personal note of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth.

Earlier in the day, when Kate arrived at the event — racket in hand — she congratulated the group on their victories. "Amazing, guys, honestly. Congratulations. It was seriously impressive. It's so nice to see all of you back here in your home countries to celebrate."

Kate's meeting comes a day after her husband, Prince William, highlighted soccer when he visited a lower league team in south London to discuss the ongoing review of governance in the sport.

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