JOHN McENROE has been slammed by fans for suggesting 'it got a bit too much' for Emma Raducanu as she pulled out of her debut Wimbledon fairytale.
The 18-year-old British tennis sensation retired from her fourth-round clash at Wimbledon against Ajla Tomljanovic.
Clutching her stomach and struggling physically, she took a medical timeout and was told by the trainer to take 'nice slow breaths' but, at 6-4 3-0 down, could not carry on due to breathing difficulties.
It has not been explained what caused those breathing difficulties.
But BBC Sport pundit and commentator McEnroe, 62, reckoned Raducanu collapsed under the pressure of the match on Court One and was 'emotional'.
The three-time Wimbledon champ told Clare Balding and Annabel Croft in the studio: "I feel bad for Emma, I mean obviously it got – it appears it got a bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we've been talking about for the last six weeks.
"How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long, how well they can handle it.
"These guys that can keep their composure and the girls out there are absolutely amazing.
"So we have to appreciate the players that are able to do it so well and hopefully she will learn from this experience.
"Maybe it's not a shame that it happened right now, when she's 18. I think, seeing this, expectations drop a little bit, allow her to take a couple of deep breaths."
Former British No1 Laura Robson added: "Perhaps the pressure has caught up with her. It's part of being a Brit at Wimbledon."
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Raducanu's dad Ian told The Times he did not know why his daughter – the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 since 1959 – stopped playing.
He said: "I think it's the level." Asked if it was nerves, he added: "Who knows?"
But Raducanu's opponent Tomljanovic hit back at McEnroe and said: "I wasn't 100 per cent sure what was wrong with Emma.
"I'll start with saying that I can't imagine being in her shoes at 18, playing a fourth round in your home country.
"For him to say that, it's definitely harsh. I have experienced something similar but not to that extent.
"I can't imagine how she must be feeling having to pull out. Being down 6-4 3-0, you can come back from that quickly, especially on grass. It's really sad that she had to do that."
And supporters on Twitter blasted McEnroe for his comments on Raducanu, who will jump up from 338th in the world rankings to an expected 174th.
Dr Alex George said: "I didn’t realise John McEnroe was medically qualified or that he has X-ray vision! I hope Emma Raducanu is ok and wish her a speedy recovery. Did her country proud."
Harriet Minter wrote: "Listening to the John McEnroe commentary about Emma Raducanu. Two things: 1. Is he drunk? 2. Is there anything more annoying than a man telling a woman she’s not hurt she’s just emotional? No, no there isn’t. Please ask him to stop."
A third said: "Switched off at John McEnroe's comments – an absolute disgrace and completely unnecessary.
"Incredible tournament from Emma Raducanu and best wishes for a speedy recovery."
Another user commented: "Why, when Andy Murray started playing big matches and getting leg cramps, was it accepted as part of transition to top-level tennis, yet when Emma Raducanu takes a *medical* time out the 'girl' has found it 'too much' and is 'emotional'? Totally unfair by John McEnroe."
And a final one replied: "McEnroe being very patronising about Raducanu. Maybe she's actually ill rather than being overwhelmed by the occasion…"
Not everyone disagreed with McEnroe, though, including controversial TV presenter Piers Morgan.
He tweeted: "McEnroe told the truth. Ms Raducuna’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure and quit when she was losing badly.
"Not ‘brave’, just a shame. If I were her, I’d tell my fans to stop abusing McEnroe, and seek his advice on how to toughen up and become a champion like he was."
Wildcard Raducanu did not hold a press conference following her exit on Monday night but may address the media or release a statement today.
She picked up a whopping £181,000 cheque for reaching the last 16 on her Wimbledon debut and won over the hearts of the nation as the final home talent in either the men's or women's singles draws.
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