You’re Emma Raducanu. You’re the new US Open Champion. You’re 18 and you won with such pzazz and open-hearted warmth it made you so easy to be everybody’s new hero.
It should be enough. But nothing is ever enough to escape the gravitational pull of political point-scoring these days.
So this morning, you’re not just the US Open Champion. You’re the new fault line in an age-old immigration debate that’s covered more newspaper column inches and consumed more social media terabytes than a tennis tournament ever could.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan holds Raducanu up as “London’s story”:
“Here in London, we embrace and celebrate our diversity. And if you work hard, and get a helping hand, you can achieve anything.”
London’s Story, Sadiq? Is she really more London’s Story than the five people stabbed and two people shot in London’s streets this same weekend? Whose story are they?
Latching on to somebody’s success to advance your own agenda is hardly new. The object of the debate has no agency in the matter – their co-option in a political issue they may or may not even recognise is entirely unapproved. But the effects can be corrosive; undermining them not just as sports people, but people people.
Holding up Emma Raducanu as an example of UK immigration policies working or failing is as dumb-witted and dehumanising as those who used to praise the great heavyweight champion Joe Louis for being the right kind of black athlete in 30s America.
The great New York sports columnist Jimmy Cannon slapped them into place when he wrote that Joe Louis was indeed “a credit to his race. The human race.”
Emma Raducanu is not London’s Story. She’s not some example of progressive immigration policies now lost to Brexit. She’s not the right kind of anything.
She’s a young woman whose brilliance on the tennis court we can all relish and all be proud of. It’s more than enough.