Tennis Player Leylah Fernandez Named Female Athlete of the Year by The Canadian Press | The Canadian News

Leylah Fernández displayed the poise of a champion after a memorable run to the US Open tennis final last summer, a performance that proved she had truly made it to one of the sport’s most important stages.

Moments after getting close to a Grand Slam title, the Canadian teenager delivered a speech that brought the house down at Arthur Ashe Stadium. His eloquence wowed the New York crowd that day, as did the quality of his work during the previous fortnight.

Fernandez’s surprise-laden bombardment through the women’s draw was one of the highlights of a standout season for the Montreal native. She also won her first career WTA Tour title in 2021 and climbed the world rankings to reach the top 25.

Fernandez capped off her year on Tuesday by winning the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award for Female Athlete of the Year from The Canadian Press.

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A promising player at No. 73 entering the US Open, expectations were modest at the start of the tournament. Fernández would surpass them enormously.

She stunned defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round and eliminated more big names like Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka on her way to the final.

“I was very, very proud of myself, how I was able to be calm and how I was able to step forward in those important moments to be able to pass the finish line,” Fernandez said.

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Fernández thrilled the lively crowd along the way with his energy, spirit and determination. Fans were enthralled and cheered on the 19-year-old Canadian as if he were his hometown favorite.

The final match, however, did not go the way she wanted, as she fell to British qualifier Emma Raducanu.

It was an emotional evening in New York on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. After an on-court interview, Fernández asked for the microphone to be returned to him before receiving the finalist trophy so he could address the crowd one last time.

“I know this day was especially difficult for New York and for everyone in the United States,” he said. “I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been for the last 20 years.

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“Thank you for always supporting me, thank you for encouraging me. I love you New York and hope to see you next year. “

The applause from the more than 23,000 spectators in attendance was deafening.

In addition to his first appearance in the Grand Slam final, Fernández, who started the year 88th in the world, won the Monterrey Open in March. He also helped Canada achieve a 4-0 victory over Serbia in the Billie Jean King Cup playoffs in April.

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Leylah Fernandez, Felix Auger-Aliassime in Montreal after long races at the US Open

Rosenfeld’s career was closed this year with Fernandez receiving 12 of the 45 votes cast by Canadian sports editors, writers and broadcasters. Swimmers Penny Oleksiak and Maggie Mac Neil finished with 10 votes each.

“This award will be one of many I win,” said Tennis Canada President Michael Downey. “We are very proud of this young woman, both for what she did on the court and for what she does off the court, because her speech after losing the final (of the US Open) was one for all ages.

“We are very proud of her”.

Fernandez, who lives and trains in Boynton Beach, Florida, is the third player to win the annual award in the past decade. Bianca Andreescu won it in 2019 and Eugenie Bouchard won it in 2013 and ’14.

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“Leylah’s career in what is arguably the most difficult of the major tennis leagues, the US Open, was nothing short of remarkable,” said Kelowna Daily Courier managing editor David Trifunov.

“His surgical cuts in the field of former champions and No. 1 in the world, all with what is becoming his trademark dimpled smile, is precisely the tonic that Canadian sports fans need in a pandemic.”

Click to play video: 'Tennis stars Felix Auger-Aliassime, Leyla Fernandez return home after US Open'

Tennis stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leyla Fernandez return home after US Open

Tennis stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leyla Fernandez return home after the US Open – September 14, 2021

Fernández finished the year with a 25-17 record and won $ 1.77 million in prize money.

Footballer Christine Sinclair took the honor from Rosenfeld last year.

“I am very honored to be among these athletes who have done so much for women’s sports and their respective sports, and even outside of their sports,” said Fernandez. Growing up, I read about (Sinclair) on the news.

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“I have seen how much she has accomplished and I am honored to have my name next to hers.”

The winner of the Lionel Conacher award, given to CP’s Male Athlete of the Year, will be announced Wednesday. The team of the year will be announced on Thursday.

– With files from Canadian Press’ Lori Ewing.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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