Andy Murray and Gary Lineker jump to defend Emma Raducanu, 18, after KP and Piers Morgan question 'mental toughness'

ANDY MURRAY and Gary Lineker defended 18-year-old Brit Emma Raducanu after criticism of her Wimbledon withdrawal on Monday.

The two-time Wimbledon champion and Three Lions legend leaped to the defence of Raducanu, who was forced to retire from her fourth-round match with breathing difficulties.

Raducanu's exit against Alja Tomljanovic drew criticism from former Wimbledon winner John McEnroe on BBC.

The American pundit said the occasion 'got a bit too much' for 18-year-old Raducanu, who was taken off court for medical treatment in the second set and never returned.

McEnroe said: "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."

His views were echoed by former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan on Twitter today.

The presenter said: "McEnroe told the truth. Ms Raducuna’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly. Not ‘brave’, just a shame. If I were her, I’d tell my fans to stop abusing McEnroe, & seek his advice on how to toughen up & become a champion like he was.

"Mental strength and resilience are not dirty words. They’re good things that need to be taught, nurtured, encouraged & celebrated from school onwards. This would be immeasurably easier if so many high profile people stopped playing the victim."

And former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen agreed.

KP wrote: "Talent is one thing, but mental toughness is what separates the good from the great in sport! Dealing with pressure, bad form, negative media etc is HARD, but that’s sport. It’s demanding. Deal with it, or someone else will deal with it in your place!"

But 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon champion Murray hit back at the pair on social media.

He said: "No question mental toughness can be what separates the best in sport but surely both of you aren’t judging her mental toughness on yesterday’s match?!"

And former England striker Lineker poked fun at Piers walking off set on Good Morning Britain earlier this year.

The Match of the Day host said: "Happens to the best of us, even those that aren’t suffering from a possible injury or illness."

And he also took a shot at Piers with his next tweet, saying: "Yes, being on the big stage, crapping yourself or otherwise, is something you’ll never achieve."

Piers refused to back down, and told Lineker: "Mate, we’ve won the exact same number of English League titles, World Cups & European Championships. Fact."

And he hit back at Murray too, saying: "Well, I just felt the reaction to what McEnroe said was absurdly OTT. Didn’t you?

"He’d have said exactly the same to a young male player in same situation and nobody would have abused him for it."

Pietersen later claimed he wasn't talking about Raducanu's exit in his tweets on Tuesday.

The former cricket star said: "Just for clarity, I was merely responding to a single tweet that had no reference to tennis at all. None whatsoever. So I actually had no clue about the context. I was on a golf course yesterday and was celebrating my best ever round of golf last night. So please relax?"

World No 338 Raducanu had a fairytale run to the last-16 at Wimbledon having just completed her A-levels.

Wimbledon chiefs defended their scheduling after the 18-year-old was forced to wait until 8pm before her match began on Monday.

A statement said: "We were very sad to see Emma forced to withdraw from her match last night and wish her all the best with her recovery.

"She should be commended for the poise and maturity she has shown throughout the Wimbledon Fortnight and we very much look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year and in the years to come.

“In respect of scheduling, as always, the scheduling of the order of play each day at The Championships is a complex operation, and although we take great care when scheduling matches and allocating courts on a daily basis, it is not an exact science.

"All decision are made with fairness and the best interests of the tournament, players, spectators and our worldwide broadcast audience at heart, but the unpredictable nature of the length of matches and the British weather can and will cause disruption to any schedule.”

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