The biggest story in the US Open was supposed to be Novak Djokovic’s attempt to break the men’s all-time Grand Slam record. Instead, everyone’s eyes are firmly on the teenagers making history on the women’s side of the tournament. Leylah Fernandez, in particular, has turned heads, made fans, and cemented her place as one of the most interesting faces to watch in a sport where most of the stars are anything but young.
Fernandez, who just turned 19, has had a remarkable US Open so far. Her victory against 5th seed Elina Svitolina in a three-set match lasting more than three hours means she’s now semifinals bound. This is noteworthy for a nineteen-year-old, but it’s even more so for one who came into the US Open unseeded and had to defeat two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka and 2016 champ Angelique Kerber to even get to the quarterfinals.
Her win against Svitolina carries another important milestone. With it, Fernandez becomes the youngest woman since Serena Williams to defeat two Top-5 players in the same Grand Slam. Pretty good company, right?
She hasn’t had an easy match, either. And she hasn’t just won these games – she’s battled through some of them and has done so with a smile and a drive that makes watching her exhilarating.
Fernandez, who was named one of ESPN’s 21 tennis players under 21 to watch in 2021 at the beginning of the season, has done more than live up to the expectations. And her goal of being ranked in the top 10 by the end of the year, which she shared with ESPN back when the list was first announced? Well, that might still not happen, but she’s going to get close. And she’s going to have a lot of people behind her.
Whether Fernandez can get to the US Open final – or even win it – remains to be seen, but she’s done enough to make fans out of us, and a lot of other people. And at nineteen, there’s still a lot to do, a lot to conquer, and a lot to experience.