The 20-year-old tennis player is competing at the French Open in Paris and has recently won her first game.
The Roland-Garros is well underway, with the second round tournaments set for this week. In the lineup of the women’s singles category at the French Open is a Fil-Canadian professional tennis player: 20-year-old Leyla Annie Fernandez. The rising tennis star beat Magda Linette of Poland over the weekend, qualifying for the second round of the competition.
Get to know more about Fernandez below:
She has Filipino and Ecuadorean roots
Fernandez was born in Laval, Quebec, to Ecuadorian Jorge Fernandez and Filipino-Canadian Irene Exevea, whose parents are from Leyte and Ilocos Norte. Her sister, Bianca Jolie, is also a competitive tennis player.
In a 2021 interview, the tennis player admitted she has yet to learn more about Filipino culture. But she has stated in other interviews that she loves when her lolo cooks Filipino food. Among the dishes her lolo makes, her favorite is adobo.
Her dad, a former soccer player, is also her coach
Sports run in the family as Fernandez’s tennis coach is her father Jorge, who used to be a semi-professional soccer player and coach in Montreal. He became a tennis coach for his daughter and takes the role seriously to the point of observing superstition.
At the US Open final in 2021, Jorge refused to attend his daughter’s final against Emma Raducanu in order to continue following routines that, according to him, were working. “It’s really about superstition. She knows I’m supporting her from afar. I’m in her heart, and she’s in mine,” he told US Open reporters back then. “Everybody who has seen it from the stadium, fantastic. But I’m going to look at her right across the kitchen table when we’re going to have dinner, and we’re going to be okay.”
She is a junior Grand Slam winner
In 2019, at just 16 years old, Fernandez competed in the Roland-Garros junior girls’ singles tournament and went on to win the title. She was the first Canadian to win the girls’ Grand Slam title since 2012 when Eugenie Bouchard won junior Wimbledon.
“Roland Garros is very special for me because it was the first Grand Slam I saw,” Fernandez said in an interview with The Sports Network (TSN) Canada. “So being able to win here as a junior player is very special for me.”
She has beaten three of the world’s top tennis players
Fernandez’s performance at the 2021 US Open was one of the instances that solidified her status as a rising tennis star. In order to get to the finals, she beat three top-seeded tennis players: Naomi Osaka, who was the defending champion at the time and number 3 seed; Elina Svitolina, who was number 5; and Aryna Sabalenka, who was number 2. At 19 years old, she is the youngest woman to beat three top-five-seeded tennis players in the majors since Serena Williams, who did it at 17 in 1999.
She’s been tapped by brands for endorsements
When not competing at professional tennis tournaments around the world, Fernandez is working with different brands as their ambassador. Some of these include being a global brand ambassador for Lululemon and appearing in the campaign for their tennis sportswear launch; Asics, who used to be ber apparel sponsor; subscription cosmetics company Birchbox; Google Canada for the Google Pixel 6; and Gatorade Canada. “I don’t want to only be known as a tennis player, because I’m not only a tennis player,” she said in an interview.