Roger Federer announced his retirement from tennis and the tributes started pouring in right away. One of those tributes came from Leylah Fernandez, who despite never having played against Federer, still considers him a role model. The 2021 US Open finalist, one of the most promising and talented players in the game today, grew up watching Federer on TV and hoping she could one day play like him.
“Words can’t begin to describe the inspiration you have been to me. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world and for everything you have done for tennis,” Fernandez wrote on Twitter, alongside a picture of herself with Federer.
Fernandez had likewise commented on another icon, Serena Williams, who also recently retired from tennis, calling her a legend and indicating that Williams gave her, and so many others like her “a path to follow.”
Williams and Federer marked an era of tennis that looks to be coming to an end soon, with a new generation set to take center stage in a landscape dominated by the same names on both the women’s and men’s sides for decades. And though Fernandez has had an up and down season that was derailed by injuries, she’s part of a group of young players that are expected to step up and become stars in the next few years.
Maybe then, in a couple of decades, someone will be paying tribute to Leylah Fernandez in the same way she’s paying tribute to Roger Federer. It’s time for a new generation, but the one coming after might just be watching on TV right now, looking to be inspired.