At the US Open, Leylah Fernandez offers a move on September 11

Leylah Fernandez stepped onto the podium, fighting back tears. She had completed an eloquent finalist speech, as if all she wanted was ...


Leylah Fernandez stepped onto the podium, fighting back tears. She had completed an eloquent finalist speech, as if all she wanted was to disappear under the bleachers of Arthur Ashe Stadium and get a hug from her family. But she prolonged her anguish for a few more minutes.

Fernandez, who had just lost in the US Open women’s final, requested the return of the microphone.

“I know that day is particularly difficult for New York and everyone in the United States,” she said, referring to the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. “I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been for the past 20 years. Thank you for always having my back. Thank you for cheering me on. I love you, New York .

It was a notable display of compassion from a woman who had just suffered a crushing defeat, who had turned 19 five days earlier, and who was not born when the World Trade Center attacks in New York City , Pentagon, and a crashed airliner in Shanksville, Pa., occurred.

“The awareness and poise she showed in that speech was just amazing,” said Patrick McEnroe, former ESPN player and analyst. “She took a moment to recognize a dark event and the world around it. It was something.

The young Canadian lost to Emma Raducanu, 6-4, 6-3. Raducanu, an 18-year-old Briton, had to win three matches in the qualifying rounds to enter the main draw, and although she never lost a set, she only faced two seeds in the tournament, nor in the top 10..

Fernandez’s magnificent two-week trip may have been more revealing in some ways, even considering the loss in the Final. She had to beat four consecutive seeds, including two former champions – No.3 Naomi Osaka, No.16 Angelique Kerber, No.5 Elina Svitolina and No.2 Aryna Sabalenka. All of his matches were played in three sets.

It was a transcendent performance, but some were also in awe of how Fernandez fared afterward.

“Look at what we saw and heard from Leylah,” said four-time US Open champion Billie Jean King, who stepped onto the podium alongside the players after the game. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that, ever, in any game. Have you got?”

Fernandez said she woke up on Saturday, noticed the date and asked her parents what exactly happened 20 years ago. She heard about their personal experiences when they learned of the bombings and the terror of so many in New York City, the United States and around the world. She felt compelled to answer it.

“I just wanted to let them know that they’re so strong, they’re so tough,” Fernandez said. “They are just amazing. Just having them here happy, alive, getting back to how they were, having my back through those hard times, made me stronger and made me believe in myself a lot more.

The most difficult point for Fernandez came late in the game, when Raducanu, who had grazed his leg, took a medical time out. At the time, Fernandez had a breaking point and was on the verge of recovering the set on serve. But Raducanu, who needed a left knee bandage, returned to the pitch and five points later closed the game.

A frustrated Fernandez discussed the matter with the chair umpire during the timeout and again immediately after the game. As Fernandez sat in his chair, defeated, the ref came down to explain the situation further. Fernandez became visibly upset, in tears. But later she admitted that the incident had been handled properly.

“It just happened in the heat of the moment,” she said. “It was just a shame that it happened at that exact moment with me with the momentum. But it’s sport. It’s tennis. I just have to move on.

It was a moment of reflection for the teenager.

As a newcomer to the tour, Fernandez was a personality largely unknown to many tennis fans. Most had only seen the boiling version, celebrating his remarkable victories. Saturday was the first time they saw how she was dealing with disappointment.

There were a few moments of frustration, a few anguished looks and a few tears. But overall, she behaved pretty much like the champions do. She was proud of herself and was able to see a bigger picture than just one defeat.

“To see my family and my fitness trainer, my agents all smiling, having fun,” Fernandez said, “means a lot more to me than any win.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: At the US Open, Leylah Fernandez offers a move on September 11
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