Filipino – Canadian tennis player Leylah Fernandez speaks after the US Open tournament at a press conference in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 14, 2021. 9REUTERS)
MONTREAL – After being caught in a whirlwind of showbiz following her unexpected run to the US Open final, Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez said she now feels like Cinderella.
The 19-year-old, along with US Open champion Emma Raducanu, is being hailed around the world after her electrifying run at Flushing Meadows.
After an intense fortnight, Fernandez let her hair down as she rubbed shoulders with top celebrities at the Met Gala in New York City and appeared on chat shows. She also signed new sponsorship contracts.
“It was kind of like I was Cinderella,” she said of the Met Gala event as she sat next to fellow Canadian tennis player Felix Auger Aliassime.
“Everything happens so almost.”
Even though her profile has now reached new heights, there are some things Canadian has no intention of changing – like her father Jorge who remains her head coach.
Jorge, an Ecuador-born footballer who had little knowledge of tennis to begin with, helped Fernandez beat three of the top five seeds en route to the final, including defending champion Naomi Osaka.
“I’m just lucky to have him as a coach and as a father because he’s been there from the very beginning,” said Fernandez, who rose from 73rd to 28th in the WTA rankings in just two weeks, said to journalists in Montreal.
“He has known me from the start and he knows what to do and when is a good time to take a break and when is a good time to bring others in.
“At the end of the day, I know my dad will be in the big picture for a long time to come.”
At a time when American gymnast Simone Biles and Osaka shed light on athletes’ mental health by revealing their struggles to cope with the pressure of expectations, Fernandez credited the support of his “team.”
“I’m just trying to do what I can do, what I can control,” she said.
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