The Filipino Canadian “Cinderella” powers her way to the US Open Finals
Step aside Justin Bieber, Drake, and Shawn Mendes. These Canadian pop megastars might be topping the international charts, but Canada’s shining star of the moment is maple syrup-loving, Leylah Fernandez.
Standing at just 1.68 meters tall, this unassuming teenager who is of Ecuadorian and Filipino descent has taken the tennis world by storm, in another immigrant success story.
Leylah Fernandez has just blazed her way into the US Open tennis finals and record books after a sensational three-set semifinal victory over Aryna Sabalenk. She will now square up against Britain’s Emma Raducanu in the finals on Saturday.
Leylah said it took “years of tears, sweat and blood to get this far.” She also remembered that her mother, Irene, had to leave the family behind to take a job in California that would pay the ever-mounting costs of Leylah’s tennis.
“That few years had been definitely hard for me because I needed a mom, I needed someone to be there for me through the age of 10 to 13. I’ve barely seen her at that time,” Fernandez said. “Every time I saw her, it was like seeing a stranger but at the same time someone so familiar.”
Toronto Star says Leylah Fernandez is “confident, but not cocky. Strong, but not dominating. Refreshing in a humble way. We can all use something uplifting in our lives and watching an extraordinary player make a name for herself is not only impressive but admirable.”
Don’t believe it when people tell you, you can’t make it
Can you believe it? Leylah Fernandez was told by her grade-school teacher that she will never make it as a tennis player.
In a post-match interview, Leylah recalled that “the teacher told me to stop playing tennis, you will never make it, and to just focus on school. I’m glad she told me that, because every day I have that phrase in my head, saying I’m going to keep going, I’m going to push through, and I’m going to prove to her that everything that I’ve dreamed of, I’m going to achieve.”
As Leylah Fernandez steps into the finals on Saturday, those words will still be ringing in her head.
For now, Canadians and Filipinos all over the world are thankful to Leylah’s early teacher whose words lit up the competitive fire in her.
Justin Bieber and Justin Trudeau now have at least two things in common. They share the same first name, and they are also both rooting for the hottest kid on the block.
Leylah’s Cinderella story continues.