Leylah and Emma

We have look at the fairy-tale-like US Open adventures of Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu, who made history in different ways…

There was only one question in mind as the 2021 US Open started: Can Novak Djokovic make her calendar Grand Slam? World leader Serbian star’s winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon respectively brought us to the point of witnessing history. Djokovic had played in the Olympics with the claim of Golden Slam, and she was disappointed in the semi-finals and was left without a medal, but in the five-set format of the US Open, it was debatable who could stop her. In short, this was the main story of the last slam of the season in New York; it was unimaginable that two players whose age total did not reach 40 would come and steal all the spotlights. However, tennis courts have always been generous in creating miracles…

18-year-old Emma Raducanu, who had her first slam experience at Wimbledon a few months ago, caught the attention there. However, the young starlet had breathing problems in the fourth round, when she took on Ajla Tomljanovic, and had to quit the match. While playing Wimbledon is difficult for any Briton, the burden of doing it at the age of 18 on her first slam was quite different and the pressure from Center Court may have affected Raducanu. Regardless of the outcome, we had the chance to get to know Raducanu thanks to the week she spent in the tournament she came to by special invitation. The adventure of Raducanu, who was born in Canada but lives in London and has Romanian roots on his father’s side and Chinese roots on his mother’s side, was just beginning.

Leylah Fernandez, whose father is Ecuadorian and whose mother is Canadian of Philippine descent, similarly opened her eyes to an immigrant family. The young player who was coming to New York as the world number 73, had minor fame for several years as she was named among the promising stars of Canadian tennis. Moreover, with the WTA tournament she won in Monterrey in March, she had a better career than Emma. Fernandez, who will celebrate her 19th birthday during the US Open, would unbelievably get ahead of the defending champion Naomi Osaka, former number 1 Angelique Kerber, Olympic medalist Elina Svitolina and number 2 of the classification Aryna Sabalenka in three sets and deserve to go out for the cup match.

The matchup of Emma Raducanu, who was the first player to reach the slam final from the elimination, regardless of male or female, were fair compared to Fernandez. For example, Shelby Rogers beat world number 1 Ashleigh Barty and, this situation prevented a Barty-Raducanu match in the last 16. The information that the British player took on only one top 10 player in a total of nine matches, including the qualifiers, meant a lot. However, it was so impressive that Raducanu did not lose a set in her matches against reigning Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and French Open semi-finalist Maria Sakkari. Leylah deserved applause for her calmness in difficult matches and Emma for not giving any opportunity to anyone she met.

Another Wimbledon’s young name Leylah Fernandez

Raducanu was the side that looked fit in the first Grand Slam final, which was organized exactly 22 years after the last one and faced two players under the age of 20 against each other. Because Fernandez seemed to bear the traces of the hard matches she played until that moment. The Canadian, who could not do what she wanted during two sets except for a few competitive matches, could not prevent Emma’s last step of her dreamlike three weeks. Emma Raducanu, who came from the qualifiers and did not incomprehensibly lose a set, became the champion in the fifth professional tournament of her career and in her second Grand Slam. She became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since 1977 and turned a whole new page for one of the biggest but equally unfortunate countries in tennis.

Raducanu at the premiere of No Time to Die (Photo: Toby Melville / Reuters)

It’s been a few weeks since the nice memories in New York, and especially Raducanu continued to keep media attention during this time. For example, there are hints that the British tennis player, which recently appeared at the premiere of the latest James Bond movie No Time to Die, may reach popularity beyond tennis, just like Maria Sharapova or Naomi Osaka. Millions of eyes watch Raducanu, who is predicted to be Britain’s first billionaire athlete, dazzles sponsors around the world, and is among the tennis players with the most followers on Instagram. In this sense, she will have a different path compared to Leylah Fernandez, who has gained a high level of experience for a longer period of time and keeps herself relatively away from chaos. Of course, this time it’s Emma Raducanu’s turn to walk on the hard road…