5 things to know about Canadian tennis star Leylah Fernandez
Fernandez loses final but wins hearts
⭐️HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW⭐️
- Canadian Leylah Fernandez finished second at the 2021 U.S. Open.
- She’s only 19, but her post-game interview attracted lots of attention online.
- Turns out, she could have done that interview in two other languages!
- And did you know she’s shorter than the average pro tennis player?
- Keep reading for more fun facts. ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️
Leylah Fernandez made history at the U.S. Open tennis championship last week when she became the second Canadian woman ever to make it to the final.
And she’s only 19!
The Quebec teen fell short of winning the title in the final at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sept. 11, losing 6-4, 6-3 to the U.K.’s Emma Raducanu.
Nonetheless, she had an incredible run and grabbed Canada’s attention with her success!
Many Canadians might not know a lot about Fernandez, so here are five things to know about our new tennis star.
It’s been a big year for Fernandez
You may recognize her name from the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, where Fernandez competed for Canada this past year.
She made it past the first round, but lost in the second round. Only 18 years old at the time, it was a strong Olympic debut.
On top of her first Olympics, Fernandez also got her first WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Tour win at the 2021 Monterrey Open.
She comes from a diverse family
Fernandez was born in Montreal and is of mixed descent. Her father and coach, Jorge Fernandez, is from Ecuador and her mother, Irene Fernandez, is a Filipino-Canadian.
Her father, a former professional soccer player, has coached Fernandez throughout her career.
A fun fact: Fernandez is trilingual! She’s fluent in English, French and Spanish.
Her post-game interview was a hit
Many credit Fernandez with being mature and well-spoken for her age.
This came through during her post-game interview after Saturday’s final, which happened to take place on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the deadly attack on the U.S. that involved the destruction of New York’s World Trade Center.
After falling short in the final, Fernandez had this to say: “I know on this day, it’s especially hard for New York and everyone around the United States. I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been the last 20 years.”
The comment appears to have won her some new fans.
She’s small but mighty
At around five feet five inches, she’s on the shorter side of most professional tennis players.
For comparison, 16 out of the 20 highest-ranked players on the women’s tour coming into the season are listed above 5-9.
While growing up, Fernandez took inspiration from Justine Henin, a Belgian tennis legend who was also 5-5.
“She had the talent, great hands, slices and drop shots to open up the court where not many could,” Fernandez told CBC Sports, “and that inspired me that I could do it, too, and I want to inspire other kids to believe they can do it, too.”
This was her best Grand Slam finish ever
Despite being the runner-up, this is still Fernandez’s best Grand Slam finish, and there are a lot of highlights to pull from the tournament.
She beat two past U.S. Open champions on her way to the final — Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber.
She also beat the No. 5 seed in the tournament, Elina Svitolina, and the No. 2 seed, Aryna Sabalenka.
It’s been an incredible run for the young tennis star, who has captivated the country with her poise and maturity, and also captured many fans south of the border.
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TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Elsa/Getty Images and graphic design by Philip Street/CBC
CORRECTION: This article originally stated that Justine Henin is Swiss. In fact, she's Belgian.