Leylah Annie Fernandez was hailed the Bobbie Rosenfeld Awardee as Female Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Press after her sterling 2021 tennis season.
The Canadian flag bearer of Filipino-Ecuadorian descent became a worldwide sensation last year as she delivered a series of wins against champions on her way to a historic first Grand Slam finals appearance in the United States Open Tennis Championships.
The 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez went up against 18-year-old Emma Raducanu of the United Kingdom for the Womens’ Singles title in September and finished runner-up in the tour.
But Fernandez’s magical run to the finals is the main story that caught the world’s attention.
The unseeded Fernandez scored four successive upset victories against top seeds in the New York Grand Slam event that included a shocker win over No. 3 seed and defending U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, winning against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, defeating three-time Grand Slam champion No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, and besting No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
Fernandez also became the youngest player to reach the semifinals of the US Open Championships in 16 years since an 18-year-old Maria Sharapova played the semis in 2005.
Leylah Fernandez also marked the year by winning her first professional championship title at the 2021 Monterrey Open.
The World Tennis Association player achieved a career-high ranking of No. 24 on November 8, 2021.
The Canadian Press award was won by Leylah Fernandez after receiving 12 of 45 votes cast by sports editors, writers, and broadcasters across Canada.
Fernandez took to Twitter to express her thanks for the accolade.
“Wow 💕 Thank you for all the support this year.”
“This award is going to be one of many she wins,” said Tennis Canada president Michael Downey in The Canadian Press report on December 28. “We just are so proud of this young woman, both for what she did on court but also what she does off court because her speech after she lost the (US Open) final was one for the ages. We’re just so proud of her.”
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