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Leylah Fernandez

A class act

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Leylah Fernandez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canadian professional tennis player Leylah Fernandez returned to Montreal, September 14, bringing home a life-changing prize of $1.25-million US as the runner-up to British 18-year-old Emma Raducanu during the Grand Slam final at the 2021 US Open on September 11.

She made history at the U.S. Open tennis championship when she became only the second Canadian woman ever to make it to the final. The five-feet-four-inch-tall, 19-year-old Fernandez became a fan favourite due to her unexpected success. She defeated four seeded players along the way, including defending champion Naomi Osaka. Fernandez has charmed not only tennis fans internationally, but she has also captivated everyone around the world with her humility, poise, and maturity.

Leylah Annie Fernandez was born in Montreal on September 6, 2002. She 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, coached Fernandez throughout her career. She has a younger sister, Bianca Jolie, also a tennis player.

Leylah Fernandez (Facebook photo)

In one interview, Fernandez lovingly paid tribute to her parents when she said, “Through the years, my dad and my mom taught me to work hard and to fight for what you want. Nothing will come easy. Same thing with life. I’ve seen them going through hardship and I like to take that as motivation for a tennis match.”

Her father, Jorge, in a conference call with US Open reporters, acknowledged the Filipino community when he said, “I truly appreciate the Filipino community backing up Leylah… It’s so beautiful. I’m glad that they’ve embraced her. I hope that relationship can only grow between her and her community.”

Author Kristina Rutherford in her article on, On US Open run to stardom, Fernandez hit all the right notes — even in defeat, wrote a fitting description of Leylah Fernandez: “What an absolute star. A class act. A wonderful human being. This kid, the one who gave all the players cupcakes on her birthday earlier this week, hit all the right notes in her journey from relative unknown to household name, even when she was crushed by defeat.”