John McEnroe criticized for 'harsh' reaction to Emma Raducanu's mid-match retirement at Wimbledon

Former tennis star John McEnroe is being criticized for his reaction on the BBC's broadcast to British teenager Emma Raducanu's mid-match retirement at Wimbledon.

McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, appears as an analyst on the host country's television coverage at the All England Club. McEnroe also works as an analyst for ESPN.

Raducanu, 18, stopped playing while trailing in the second set of her fourth-round match against Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday night. Raducanu was visited by a trainer then left the court for a medical timeout. Eventually, the chair umpire announced that the 338th-ranked Raducanu would not continue because of a health issue without specifying why.

McEnroe told viewers, "It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we've been talking about this over the last six weeks, with Naomi Osaka not even here."

Osaka, a four-time major champion, pulled out of the French Open in May and missed Wimbledon because she said she needed a mental health break.

"How much can players handle?" McEnroe said. "It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long -- how well they can handle it. ... We have to appreciate the players that are able to do it so well, and hopefully she'll learn from this experience."

More than two hours later, the All England Club said Raducanu had had difficulty breathing.

"I can't imagine being in her shoes, at 18, playing a fourth round in your home country. It's something I can't even imagine," Tomljanovic said, when asked about McEnroe's comments. "For him to say that, it's definitely harsh."

Said the BBC in a statement Tuesday: "John McEnroe offered his personal view on the pressures that tennis players face, based on both his own experience and those of current players. He was sympathetic to Emma's situation."

Harriet Minter, a London-based journalist who focuses on issues relating to women, the future of work, media and diversity, criticized McEnroe on Twitter, saying, "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."

Chloe Hubbard, the executive editor of London's Independent newspaper, tweeted, "Feel like the producers could have given McEnroe a bit of a better mental health briefing ahead of him sharing ALL the views there."

Andy Murray, responding to a couple of tweets that implied Raducanu couldn't handle the pressure, 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?!"

Raducanu's match got a late start because the previous men's match went five sets. On Tuesday, the All England Club issued a statement commending Raducanu "for the poise and maturity" she showed throughout the tournament and noting that the scheduling "is not an exact science."

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

McEnroe also mentioned the late start time during his postmatch analysis, saying it was "a lot to take on" for Raducanu.

"I don't think it helped that [Alexander] Zverev and [Felix Auger-] Aliassime went as long as they did because that gave her more and more time to think about it," he said. "... That's a lot to take on, especially when you've never been there before."

McEnroe also tried to compare his early Wimbledon experience, when he made the semifinals at age 18 in 1977, to Raducanu's.

"Maybe it's not a shame that it happened right now, when she's 18," McEnroe said. "I played this event for the first time when I was 18 and I was able to qualify and get to the semifinals, and I felt it was overwhelming to make the change in my life. And I mean of course I would've wanted it, but in a way I was happy I lost. It allowed me to sort of be a kid."

In a statement Tuesday, ESPN said, "We are exploring the details surrounding what was said on BBC and will be following up with John."

On Tuesday, Raducanu released a statement saying she was "feeling much better." She said at the end of the first set she "started to breathe heavily and felt dizzy." The medical team advised her not to continue, and she said she "was not well enough to carry on."

"Last night will go a long way to helping me learn what it takes to perform at the top," she wrote. "I will cherish everything we have achieved together this week and come back stronger!"

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.