US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez was told to GIVE UP on tennis and focus on school by her teacher as the Canadian now prepares to battle Britain’s Emma Raducanu for glory in New York
- Leylah Fernandez has revealed she was told to give up on tennis as a youngster
- The Canadian’s school teacher told her to abandon the sport and focus on school
- But she’s now a US Open finalist after beating world No two Aryna Sabalenka
- Fernandez will now face Britain’s Emma Raducanu for a winner’s purse of £1.8m
US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez has revealed she was told to give up on tennis by a school teacher because she would never make it to the top of the game.
The Canadian, who turned 19 on Monday, stunned world number two Aryna Sabalenka in a dramatic three-set semi-final at Flushing Meadows on Thursday night.
Fernandez will now face Britain’s Emma Raducanu in the first US Open final to feature two teenagers since 17-year-old Serena Williams beat 18-year-old Martina Hingis in 1999 – before this year’s finalists were born.
US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez says she was told to give up on tennis by her school teacher
Dropped from Tennis Quebec’s development programme when she was seven, Fernandez will now have the last laugh as she battles Raducanu for a winner’s purse of £1.8million.
And she revealed after her victory over Sabalenka on Arthur Ashe Stadium that she was urged to abandon her tennis dreams as a youngster but uses those doubts as motivation on the court now.
‘A lot of people doubted me, my family and my dreams,’ said Fernandez after knocking out second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6, 4-6 6-4.
‘They kept saying “No”, that I’m not going to be a professional tennis player, that I should stop and just pursue going to school.
‘I remember one teacher, which was actually very funny – at the time it wasn’t, but now I’m laughing.
‘She told me to stop playing tennis, you will never make it, and 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, push through, prove to her everything I’ve dreamed of I’m going to achieve”.’
Fernandez knocked out second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6, 4-6 6-4 in New York City
Fernandez will now face Britain’s Emma Raducanu in the first US Open final to feature two teenagers since 1999
Fernandez, ranked 73 in the world, has laid waste to a number of women’s tennis stars in New York City this fortnight.
She added Sabalenka to the scalps of defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 winner Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Elina Svitolina with a victory in two hours and 21 minutes.
Fernandez had the crowd firmly behind her and the roar inside Arthur Ashe Stadium as Sabalenka sent the final point long could probably be heard in her hometown in Quebec, a neighbour of New York State.
She said: ‘I think I’ve been doing some incredible things. I don’t know. It’s like I think one word that really stuck to me is “magical” because not only is my run really good but also the way I’m playing right now.
‘I’m just having fun, I’m trying to produce something for the crowd to enjoy. I’m glad that whatever I’m doing on court, the fans are loving it and I’m loving it, too. We’ll say it’s magical.’
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