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Tennis star Leylah Fernandez believes sport can be the ultimate unifier and aims to grow the game for women and girls


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Leylah Fernandez took the tennis world by storm, having already won two WTA titles at just 19, but the Canadian superstar hopes to expand his reach and share the importance of sport and the meaning it can have, especially on women and young girls.

Fernandez spoke to Fox News Digital following her exit from the Indian Wells Open last week when she lost to defending tournament champion Paula Badosa of Spain in the round of 16.

She praised sports unifying, adding that “the world can learn through sport”.

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“It opened my eyes to how much we can grow and how much we can learn through sport,” the world No. 21 tennis player told Fox News Digital. “The world can learn through sport because sport has always united the world in a way that I don’t think any other activity has. So I think by showing the younger generation that we we can stay united through sport, it will give them confidence in their own future.”

Leylah Fernandez of Canada hits a forehand during her match against Shelby Rogers of the United States during the BNP Parisbas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 14, 2022 in Indian Wells, California.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Fernandez hopes to achieve that message through a new partnership with Morgan Stanley where she hopes to help increase access and equity for underrepresented communities in the sport of tennis.

“Morgan Stanley has great core values ​​and I think one of them is very similar to what my parents taught me from the very beginning, which is to give back and I hope to be able to do that with Morgan Stanley” , she said of the new multi-year partnership. “Try to give back to the community, to underprivileged communities, to younger generations who want to start playing sports.”

She continued: “In my experience, sport has always given me an escape from what was going on at home or at school. So it was a nice way not only to make friends , but also to create good memories.”

Fernandez will serve as a brand ambassador for Morgan Stanley and support corporate initiatives.

Fernandez will serve as a brand ambassador for Morgan Stanley and support corporate initiatives.
(Morgan Stanley)

Fernandez hopes to reach young women and girls in particular.

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“When I watched TV I saw the professionals play – how hard they competed. So I think by being able to develop the sport and show the younger generation, especially girls and women, I think [I could show them] that anything is possible,” she told Fox News Digital. “I think that would be very motivating for them [to show them] that they could do whatever they want, not necessarily in sport but in other areas in their respective profession and their respective passion that they have and that they can leave with the mindset that they can achieve the same thing that others achieve.”

Fernandez is certainly a living example of the work she hopes to accomplish.

She beat top-ranked athletes like Naomi Osaka to reach the women’s final at the U.S. Open in 2021 and returned this year to defend her Monterrey Open title after surprisingly surviving five match points in the title match. Her knack for staying alive in high-pressure moments has drawn comparisons to Rafael Nadal, but the young star humbly told Fox News Digital she still has a long way to go.

Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates with the Champions Trophy after winning the final singles match at the GNP Seguros WTA Monterrey Open 2022 Final on March 6, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.

Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates with the Champions Trophy after winning the final singles match at the GNP Seguros WTA Monterrey Open 2022 Final on March 6, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.
(Photo by Gonzalo Gonzalez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

“It’s an honor to be compared to Rafa – to Nadal – because he’s a real champion. He’s a legend. He showed on every occasion what it takes to cross the finish line at every round even though he’s a little injured, even though he’s injured – he finds a way to keep playing and keep fighting the same way he was, so it’s an honor to be compared to him but i don’t think i’m at the same level and i still have a lot to catch up i hope that one day when i reach his age i can say i’m fine but for now i am still learning, developing [stage].”

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Having only made her professional debut in July 2019, Fernandez is still confident in her abilities to compete with the best.

“Playing a game against a defending champion (Badosa), seeing where my level is after playing so many games in a row over the last two weeks told me that my level was up there and I could compete with these women.

Canada's Leylah Annie Fernandez celebrates with the second trophy after being defeated by Great Britain's Emma Raducanu in their women's singles final match on day thirteen of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York.

Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez celebrates with the second trophy after being defeated by Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu in their women’s singles final match on day thirteen of the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

She told Fox News Digital that her ability to thrive in high-pressure situations had a lot to do with her focus.

“Every tournament I take part in, I want to win them. That will never change,” she explained, before adding: “Have fun on the court, that’s the most important philosophy we have in this moment – just to have fun on the court every time I step in and enjoy the moment because this moment won’t happen again.”


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