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Leylah Fernandez on beating Osaka, self-belief and the power of family

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Everything you need to know about Leylah Fernandez the competitor is in her walk. Her steps are purposeful, unhesitating, a statement of intent. The 18-year-old from Montreal is going places, whether you like it or not. Lead, follow or get out of the way.On Friday night, under the sparkling lights of the biggest tennis court in the world, the diminutive Canadian commanded the stage to defeat defending champion Naomi Osaka 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 to advance to her first Round of 16 at a Slam.

 

 

Fernandez has been coached by her father, Jorge, a former Ecuadorian professional soccer player, since she first began tennis. Her mother, Irine, is Filipino Canadian, and she is the middle child among a trio sisters. In 2019, Fernandez won the girls title at Roland Garros and made her Top 100 debut a year later in September 2020.

Earlier this season, Fernandez won her first WTA title at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico. It’s been a steady but notably quick climb for the 5-foot-6 inch Canadian, who counts Justine Henin as her tennis idol.

After beating Osaka, Fernandez was asked on court when she believed she could pull off the upset of the tournament. Without hesitation, Fernandez said, “From the very beginning, right before the match, I knew I was able to win.” She elaborated on her natural self-belief in her press conference afterward.

“From a very young age, I knew I was able to beat anyone, anyone who is in front of me. Even playing different sports, I was always that competitive, saying I’m going to win against them, I’m going to win against my dad in soccer, even though that’s, like, impossible.

“I’ve always had that belief. I’ve always tried to use that in every match that I go on. I guess today that belief came true.”

WTA Insider spoke to Fernandez earlier to reflect on her path to the professional circuit and the roots of her unwavering drive, ambition and work ethic.

“And on the court, I’m able to create so much with the angles. It’s like my own art, my own canvas.”

WTA Insider: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you end up with a tennis racquet in your hand?

Fernandez: So it’s always a funny story. My dad tells it the best, but, I’ve always wanted to play soccer since he was a soccer player. He coached soccer, so I was around it a lot. In his head, he thought I wanted to do it because he was doing it. He didn’t think I did it because I loved it enough.

So he introduced me to different sports so that I can make my own decisions and tennis was one of them. He was driving back from work and went to Canadian Tire and asked the clerk if there was anything that is in any sport that doesn’t have a ball that’s bigger than a soccer ball. He showed them to the tennis racquet section. There were a few options like ping pong, badminton, and there are tennis racquets. And what he saw was a pink with flowers tennis racquet.

I got my very first tennis racquet and he imagined me and my sister just playing around, like in the park recreationally, and then by the end of the day, just get ice cream as a family. Just everything for fun. But, you know, a few years later, I wanted to be a pro and here we are, this incredible journey.

WTA Insider: Why did you choose tennis over soccer?

Fernandez: Well, one, I think I like that it was an individual sport and that everything falls on my shoulders, whereas a team sport – I played a lot of team sports – even if I play good, maybe a player on my team has a bad day and we lose. And I never liked losing. So I didn’t want to depend on another person for the win.

But then also mainly, I just love the sport. From the first time I hit the ball, I think I just enjoyed it so much that it was the only thing I was thinking about. Even though I was playing soccer, that was the one sport in my head. I was doing soccer, but I wasn’t in love with it that I wanted to continue playing.

And on the court, I’m able to create so much with the angles. It’s like my own art, my own canvas.

WTA Insider: At what point did you start thinking you wanted to become a professional tennis player?

Fernandez: I think by the end of age 9, 10, I wanted to play a little bit more competitions provincially, nationally. I was pretty competitive back in Canada. And then by the age of 11, 12, that’s when I was like, “OK, I want to be a professional.” That’s what I really want to do. I never looked back and I never second guessed myself to go back in my decisions.

I don’t know why I really wanted to be a pro. I just saw it on TV and I saw the success, the enjoyment the players were giving the fans. I just saw so many great opportunities there just to have fun and enjoy the time instead of pursuing other professions.

“A coach was telling me that I have a very similar game to Justine Henin and I didn’t know who she was. When I looked her up on YouTube, I fell in love with the sport all over again.”

WTA Insider: Do you remember who you were watching on TV that inspired you?

Fernandez: When I watched the French Open and Nadal was playing it. He won the tournament. After I saw him play and like the beauty of the game, I just really wanted to be a professional and try to replicate that on the tennis court and bring joy to people who are watching.

A coach was telling me that I have a very similar game to Justine Henin and I didn’t know who she was. When I looked her up on YouTube, I fell in love with the sport all over again. She was my idol from then on.

WTA Insider: What role has Tennis Canada played in your development?

Fernandez: They’ve helped a lot, especially the past few years. But let’s say in the beginning, it was a little rocky for the both of us. We wanted the same goal, but the paths that we want were not the same. So it was a little bit hard with the communication and seeing eye to eye.

But then once we realized that we want the same thing for the player – I wanted to be a professional, they wanted me to become a professional, too – we were able to find a middle ground and we were able to communicate a little bit better. They were helping me a lot. And I think that was a time when we were as a family, struggling a little bit. They didn’t know what was going to happen to us and they just came in at the right time, right place.

From then on, they’ve been helping me with some opportunities in Canada, playing some pros, and then at the Rogers Cup. That was a great opportunity for me to learn and see where my level is at. And I definitely grew from there.

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Simone Biles and Boyfriend Jonathan Owens Wear Matching Outfit Colors for Date Night

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Simone Biles and NFL boyfriend Jonathan Owens have been the internet craze since they made their relationship public. The two met during the pandemic, and have been inseparable ever since.

The two spent the entire holiday season together, and often take to social media to share glimpses with fans who can’t help but adore them. Recently, they left fans drooling with pictures from their date night.

Simone Biles and Jonathan Owens twin in blue for a dinner date
Simone Biles met Jonathan Owens during the pandemic in 2020. Because of the lockdown soon after they met, the two were able to spend a lot of time together.

With a shared love for bulldogs, the two soon started going out and in August 2020, the lovebirds made their relationship official. Biles clearly is head over heels for Owens. Meanwhile, Owens himself has all the love and admiration for her.

The two spend the entire holiday season together, from Thanksgiving to New Years. They clearly love spending time with each other and can’t bear to stay apart.

On Sunday, the couple was out for a dinner date, wearing matching outfits. The duo looked stunning as they twinned in blue and black.

They took to their social media to post pictures of their date night.

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“Just trying to match yo fly,” posted Owens.

While Biles wore a beautiful blue crop top with black leather pants, Owens decided to match her wearing a black t-shirt with a blue imprint and finishing it off with black pants.

Owens admired Biles’ personality
Jonathan Owens has earlier also revealed that he really admired Biles’ personality. Biles is a happy-go-lucky person, even though she has gone through insurmountable odds.

“She’s always happy, giggly, bubbly. If I’ve had a tough day at the office, I wouldn’t want to take that home to her. Her personality, man….,” said Owens.

Owens really admired Biles’ energy and loves to spend time with his girlfriend.

Simone Biles and Jonathan Owens first went public with their relationship in August 2020
The two of them are extremely supportive of each other and encourage each other. Biles is often spotted cheering on Owens during his matches. Meanwhile, Owens also doesn’t fail to reciprocate the same.

Owens was also standing tall with Biles while she went through her struggles, backing up her decision to step down from Tokyo 2020. He really is her pillar of strength.

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Revealed: The Insane Amount of Earnings That Have Propelled Lewis Hamilton’s Net Worth to $300 Million Mark

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The thing about athletes like Lewis Hamilton that differentiates them from the rest is that they set such a high standard of results that anything below a win is termed as a disappointment. But in Hamilton’s case this year, everybody seemed to agree that he had one of the best seasons of his career.

And despite not being able to add his eighth and record-breaking championship to his mountain of achievements, the Mercedes driver added a lot of digits to his earnings.

In 2021, Lewis Hamilton earned a massive $70 million from Formula 1 in terms of salary and bonuses. And an additional $12 million from sponsorships.

This meant that the total earnings of $82 million made sure that for the first time in his career, Lewis Hamilton’s estimated net worth crossed over the mark of a quarter of a billion dollars.

Now with a net worth of $300 million, Hamilton is the eighth highest-paid athlete in the world.

Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates after finishing first in qualifying Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron
But in 2022, Lewis Hamilton might earn less compared to 2021.

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How much will Lewis Hamilton earn in salary in 2022?
In 2021, Lewis Hamilton agreed to a two-year contract extension. This saw him earn a salary of $55 million (excluding bonuses) as reported by Forbes. But in his final year of the contract, the one he is currently on, it is reported that Hamilton’s salary will take a dip.

According to a report, the Mercedes driver will earn $40 million in salary in 2022.

It’s also worth pointing out that the 2021 champion Max Verstappen retains his $25 million paycheck.

The reason for the pay cut in salary of the seven-time world champion could be the fact that he is edging towards the end of his career. But also because of the cost cap that F1 introduced in 2021.

Yet it’s not as if Lewis Hamilton doesn’t have an income flow from outside the sport.

He is undeniably one of the biggest names in the global sports landscape, and his magnanimous achievements have already made sure that he’ll remain an incredibly marketable name for years to come.

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Serena Williams’ Daughter Olympia Shows Off Impressive Tennis Backhand Swing: ‘Practice Makes Better’

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Serena Williams’ daughter, Olympia Ohanian, showcased her talents on the tennis court in a video posted to her Instagram on Monday

 

 

Olympia Ohanian is following in mom Serena Williams’ famous footsteps.

The 4-year-old tiny tot showed off her seriously impressive tennis skills in a new video posted to her Instagram account on Monday, showcasing a swing that rivals tennis players of all age groups.

“Practice makes better,” reads a simple caption accompanying the video, in which Olympia can be seen sporting a black-and-white workout getup while she effortlessly practices her backhand on the court.

“It’s Oracene [Price] all over again!” Williams’ sister, Venus, commented, referring to their mom, who also served as their tennis coach when they were younger.

Olympia’s tennis skills shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering Serena, 40, is one of the most decorated tennis players in the history of the sport, and the mommy-daughter duo spend a considerable amount of time practicing together.

“Honestly, we started because it’s a socially safe sport, and when COVID happened, it was like, we’re just in the house with a 3-year-old, what do we do?” the 23-time Grand Slam winner told PEOPLE of how Olympia got involved with the sport, adding, “There was only one answer, to my dismay.”

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Serena shares Olympia with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, whom she wed in a star-studded event at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans in November 2017.

And although Olympia clearly takes her tennis training seriously on and off the court — Serena recently showed fans her daughter’s personal gym equipment in a series of Instagram Stories earlier in January — Olympia also has an ear for music, as evidenced by her incredible piano playing.

“She likes tennis, but I don’t know. Honestly, she likes playing piano,” the fashion designer told Jimmy Kimmel during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last November. “When she was in my belly, I played a lot of piano music.”

“And she’s teaching me! Like, I’m not even kidding,” the tennis pro replied when Kimmel asked if Olympia was taking piano lessons. “I have a baby Mozart, [but] of course every parent thinks they have like, a baby Beethoven or whatever.”

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