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Wimbledon: Mimi Xu is rising star of British tennis and trained with Emma Raducanu

Last year, the nation marveled at 18-year-old Emma Raducanu as the British tennis prodigy stormed into the second week of Wimbledon and then, against all odds, won the US Open in New York.

This summer, an even younger rising star in the women’s game could steal the spotlight and some of Raducanu’s thunder.

Mimi Xu, 14, is already causing ripples among tennis fans in the know.

Three challenging qualifiers stand between the teenager, from Swansea in South Wales, and the distinction of being the youngest British player to compete in the post-1968 Open era Wimbledon and possibly, if the vague records can be trusted, in 100 years.

Annabel Croft was 15 when she advanced to the main draw in 1981 and American Coco Gauff was just 15 years and 122 days old when she won three qualifiers at Roehampton in 2019 and revealed herself to the world.

Xu would be even younger if she made the SW19 Slam, which starts next Monday, but it’s fair to say that a girl who seems to combine remarkable sporting, musical and academic skills should come as little surprise.

Tall for her age, Xu is powerful and well used to taking on more physically mature opponents, some four years her senior, in junior tournaments in the UK, but Xu doesn’t qualify just to make up for the numbers.

Mimi Xu, 14, is considered a promising talent in British tennis and aims to become the country's youngest player to play at Wimbledon in a century

Mimi Xu, 14, is considered a promising talent in British tennis and aims to become the country’s youngest player to play at Wimbledon in a century

Last year, the Swansea teenager played in the girls' tournament at Wimbledon - this time she is three qualifiers away from the main draw

Last year, the Swansea teenager played in the girls’ tournament at Wimbledon – this time she is three qualifiers away from the main draw

Xu started playing tennis at the age of three and is now being tipped for great things in the sport

Xu started playing tennis at the age of three and is now being tipped for great things in the sport

At last week’s Ilkley Trophy in West Yorkshire, she was disappointed to be beaten 6-2, 6-2 by former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer, who is more than twice her age.

Let’s not forget that Mimi is a year 10 student who will be doing her maths and Spanish finals at Olchfa Secondary School this summer and the rest next year.

Obviously, her talents extend far beyond the court. Her Twitter account – operated by her parents – features tennis photos interspersed with videos of her piano and violin recitals. She got seven in both groups.

Her place in qualifying for Wimbledon was secured when she claimed the British Under-18 title well ahead of her years in April.

You only have to go back three years to find Twitter photos of Xu posing on Center Court as part of a ‘first taste of Wimbledon’ tour organized by the LTA.

She could play there next week.

Later in that tournament, she was left excited after champion players Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep signed a tennis ball for her.

Xu poses for a photo at Wimbledon during an LTA tour of the iconic venue three years ago

Xu poses for a photo at Wimbledon during an LTA tour of the iconic venue three years ago

She entered the girls' draw at Wimbledon last year, but could be in the main event now

She entered the girls’ draw at Wimbledon last year, but could be in the main event now

Like Raducanu – whose father is Romanian and mother is Chinese – Xu is a British youth player from an ethnic minority background.

Her mother Wendy, a store manager, and father Tony, a digital engineer, are both Chinese and met while studying at Swansea University.

The family still lives in the town and Xu was first introduced to the sport at the age of three at the Swansea Tennis and Squash Club.

She then moved on to a development program under the guidance of coach Fran Lewis at the Swansea Tennis Centre.

As with Raducanu, who grew up at Bromley Tennis Center in Kent, the easy access to good facilities has paid off.

Xu was, of course, inspired by Raducanu’s astonishing success in New York last September and recently hit the UK No. 1 for an hour and a half at the National Tennis Academy in Loughborough.

Xu claims she has been bolstered by the success of fellow British teen Emma Raducanu

Xu claims she has been bolstered by the success of fellow British teen Emma Raducanu

Having achieved great success in junior competitions, Xu will now move to senior events

Having achieved great success in junior competitions, Xu will now move to senior events

“It was really an eye-opener,” Xu said last week. “If you see that if she can win like this, one day we can too.

“It was really nice to be in the moment and she was really nice, very encouraging. That helped me.’

Xu already played at Wimbledon last year in the girls’ singles and doubles, but this time she is in the qualifier for a place in the main draw.

In last year’s singles, she was eliminated by Polina Kudermetova, 18, after being given a wildcard into the draw. She made it through to the second round of the doubles before suffering a defeat.

A year earlier, Xu won the Teen Tennis competition in Bolton, an event previously won by Andy Murray, Gauff and Justine Henin.

Given the success of three-time Slam winner Murray, that could bode well.

Mimi Xu can qualify for Wimbledon at just 14 years old, one year younger than Annabel Croft in 1981

Mimi Xu can qualify for Wimbledon at just 14 years old, one year younger than Annabel Croft in 1981

In addition to the potential to play at Wimbledon this summer, Xu will take two of her GCSE exams

In addition to the potential to play at Wimbledon this summer, Xu will take two of her GCSE exams

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