British teenager Emma Raducanu was ranked 150 in the world when she arrived at the US Open.
The 18-year-old had to go through three rounds of qualifying to even make the main draw for what was only her second grand slam appearance.
She is now a world sensation after winning the tournament without dropping a single set.
There was a glimpse of her potential at Wimbledon this year when she captured hearts as she reached the fourth round before withdrawing with „breathing difficulties.”
But few would have predicted that she would storm through the tournament at Flushing Meadows to take the title.
Romanians first heard of her this summer at Wimbledon, with her unmistakable Romanian surname.
Not much more is known about her other than her father is Romanian and mother Chinese. Born in Toronto, Canada in 2002, the family moved to the UK when she was 2.
Her main ties to Romania appear to be her grandparents live in Bucharest. It’s unclear whether she speaks Romanian.
But tennis-loving Romanians have switched their attention from Simona Halep, who was defeated in fourth round of the US Open, to the new tennis star with the Romanian name.
The teen, who sat A levels this summer became the first qualifier in either men’s or women’s tennis to reach a grand slam final.
One commentator suggested she would have never reached the heights of tennis at such a young age had she lived in Romania.
And star she is. She has become the first qualifier to win one on her first grand slam title by defeating Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the US Open final Saturday.
She is now the youngest grand slam winner since Russia’s Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004. She is also the first British woman to win a major title since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.
„It was an incredibly difficult match, but I thought the level was extremely high,” the Bromley teenager said after the match, congratulating Fernandez on the way she has played over the course of the tournament.
„And I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and, hopefully, finals.”
She was leading 5-2 in the second set, and twice needed just one more point to win it all. But Ms Fernandez fought back each time, and eventually won the game to make it 5-3.
Then at 5-3, Raducanu skinned her knee in a lunge on the baseline during a point that left her 30-40 behind in the game.
After a medical timeout to tend to the bleeding knee, she served and stormed back from break point to take the game and the championship.
„Staying in the moment, focusing on what I had to do and my process and the mindset just really helped in those tough times,” she said.
She incredibly didn’t drop a single set in the tournament and downed far more experienced opponents as it progressed.
Asked how she maintains composure in high-pressure moments, she credited the lessons she received from her parents when growing up.
„I think that the calmness and the mental strength definitely comes from my upbringing,” she said ahead of the final.
„I think my parents have both instilled in me from a very young age to definitely have a positive attitude on court because, yeah, when I was younger, it was definitely an absolute no-go if I had any sort of bad attitude.”
Some Romanian commentators doubt she would have reached such heights had she grown up in Romania.
“Let’s not compare her to (soccer great) Gheorghe Hagi or Simona Halep,” said Cristian Tudor Popescu. „Her father is Romanian, she isn’t Romanian,” he told Digi24.
“Of course we love her, and value the way she plays…. She is extraordinary!”
“If she hadn’t been born in Canada and lived in England, it is very unlikely that she would have reached where she did today, to raise the trophy at the US Open.”