Emma Raducanu favourite to win Sports Personality of Year after incredible 2021

Tennis star Emma Raducanu is the odds-on favourite to be named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year for 2021 on Sunday.

The 19-year-old established herself as one of the biggest names in British sport after her fairytale success at the US Open in September, where she became Britain’s first female winner of a grand slam tournament since Virginia Wade in 1977.

She also became the first ever qualifier to win a grand slam, and did not drop a single set in the tournament.

She had already indicated she would miss the BBC ceremony at Salford’s Media City as she prepared to play and train in the United Arab Emirates, but has now been forced into isolation in Abu Dhabi after testing positive for Covid-19 ahead of her involvement in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.

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If Raducanu wins on Sunday, she will be the first female to secure the award since Zara Tindall in 2006.

Raducanu heads a six-person shortlist, but one big name missing is Sir Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver was omitted from the list issued earlier this week after he lost out on a record eighth Formula One title to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.

The most controversial inclusion is heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury.

On sporting merit alone the 33-year-old was a shoo-in after he retained his WBC title with victory over Deontay Wilder in the third fight of their trilogy in Las Vegas in October.

However, he had previously threatened legal action against the BBC if it did not remove him from the 2020 shortlist. The corporation ultimately refused to do so.

Fury, who is currently in Florida, told the Daily Mail earlier this week: “The BBC would never let me win even if I knocked out King Kong.

“I will be relaxed in the Florida sunshine while the BBC get on with their SPOTY in winter. Even if they did want to give me another Special Award, which they did once, I won’t be making another speech for them.”

Fury finished fourth in 2015, despite a petition calling for his removal from the shortlist after comments he made linking homosexuality with paedophilia surfaced, and was also shortlisted last year.

The other names on the shortlist are Tom Daley, Adam Peaty, Raheem Sterling and Dame Sarah Storey

Diver Daley’s place on this year’s list comes after he claimed an emotional first Olympic gold medal with Matty Lee in the synchronised 10 metres platform event before taking bronze in the individual category, 13 years after he first appeared at the Beijing Games aged 14.

Peaty also shone in the pool, becoming the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title in the 100 metres breaststroke, while cyclist Storey broke the record for most Paralympic gold medals with three more in Tokyo, having first competed in the Barcelona Games in 1992 as a swimmer.

Sterling was arguably England’s best individual performer as the team reached a first major men’s tournament final since 1966 at Euro 2020.

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His England team-mate Jude Bellingham, 18, is on the three-person shortlist for the Young Sports Personality of the Year award alongside 13-year-old Sky Brown who won an Olympic skateboarding bronze medal in Tokyo, and 17-year-old Ellie Challis, who won silver in the S3 women’s 50m backstroke event in August, becoming the nation’s youngest Paralympian medal winner.

The sharp rise in coronavirus infections nationwide has prompted the BBC to drastically reduce the size of the audience for the ceremony to only include those essential to the production.

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