Breaking: Leyla Fernandez fails to win tennis crown

Loses to Britain’s Emma Raducanu

Charmaine Janis Rodriguez

A vital point from an ace serve cost Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez the US Open 2021 women’s finals champion title, breaking the hearts of many of her fans in Canada and across the globe. British player Emma Raducanu, the first qualifier-male or female-to win the tournament, dominated both sets 6-4, 6-3 Saturday, September 11, 2021, at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York and became the eighth woman aged 18 years old and below to win a major title.

Winners all: Fernandez (left) and Raducanu show their trophies after ending their match at the U.S. Open. (Photo: The Star)

But both teenagers were called winners due to their Cinderella-like stories, as they were virtually unknowns who beat seeded players in this year’s tournament. After her winning point, Raducanu, 18, went to her player’s box to hug her coach in between sobs while the camera zoomed in to Fernandez, 19, who was also in tears for her loss. Raducanu will go home not just with the trophy but with a prize money of US $2.5 million. No less than tennis legend Billie Jean King presented her with her championship trophy during the awarding ceremony that brought crowds again to New York amid the pandemic. 
 “She played incredible tennis. I thought the level was extremely high, and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments — and hopefully finals,” Raducanu said of Fernandez. Both girls were born in Canada to immigrant parents. Raducanu was born in Toronto to a Romanian father and Chinese mother but the family moved to Great Britain when she was two years old. Fernandez, whose father is Ecuadorian and mother is Filipino-Canadian was born in Montreal but the family moved to Florida when she was 12 so she and her younger sister could focus on their tennis training. Fernandez, who won the crowd since she defeated former US Open winners Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, promised to win the “right trophy” next year. “I love you, New York and I hope to see you next year,” she said during the awarding ceremony where she received the silver plate and US $1.25 million. Acknowledging the role of the New York crowd for her magical run in the tournament, Fernandez, dubbed a giant-killer, remembered to honor them in time for the 20th anniversary of the September 911 attacks. “Thank you for having my back. Thank you for cheering me on. I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been the last 20 years.” When she reached 3 points in the second set versus Raducanu’s 5, the crowd at Flushing Meadows just went wild and cheered her on longer. She was making the hand pumping gesture, setting the crowds that believed she was going to win the set up on their feet. Raducanu slipped and scraped her knee that she bled down to her shin, prompting a medical timeout. Fernandez was visibly distressed over the timeout since she already picked up momentum. However, Raducanu continued her winning streak and won the second set.

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