Leylah Fernandez Exclusive: Canadian Tennis Star Opens Up About Her Fighting Spirit While Playing for Her Country at the Billie Jean King Cup and Olympics

Leylah on her parents’ sacrifices for her career

Fernandez’s story is unique: his father, Jorge, is a former top footballer who helped his daughter discover the sport and was her first coach. When Leylah proved to be a formidable junior, the family made the painful decision to split up and move Jorge and Leylah to the United States, so she could look to advance to the next level.

It’s an experience that still marks her.

“It was a bit difficult; “My parents had to sell all their possessions, their car, their jewelry, everything that mattered to them, just to help me realize my dream,” Fernandez recalls.

“I am very lucky to have parents who helped me so much in this sense,” she added. “And also to have had the chance to travel to so many places for the first time with my father, to see the ocean for the first time since… it’s very special.”

Fernandez credits her father for helping her develop her never-say-die approach, a part of her game that has become well-known in women’s tennis: Leylah never gives up.

“He taught me how to fight on the field, but also [how] playing with a different style, hitting the ball earlier, playing with more angles and using my skills against players who would be taller and stronger than me,” she said.

Alec Dittman

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