For a professional tennis player, the racket is The Trade Tool – Choose devices that pay bills. But for a few weeks this summer, Leila Fernandez had to suffer a painful breakup with Babolat Pure Aero.
“I was trying to get back on the tennis court, and my dad would say, ‘No. Fernandez said Saturday from Toronto. “I accepted that this was going to take a while – that I just needed to hang my specs up a bit, hide them in the closet, and try not to look at them.
“It was one of those moments I had to master.”
When you are only 19 years old, patience is rarely a virtue. After suffering a third-degree stress fracture to her right foot at Roland Garros, the US Open finalist struggled to control those emotions that came with a serious injury. Like Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin and other colleagues who have recently learned during long sabbaticals, it’s no easy feat.
“Since Roland Garros, I’ve become a rollercoaster,” Fernandez said. “All my feelings. I was sad, sad a few days later and back home. And then we got more bad news from the doctor that it’s a stress fracture and you shouldn’t burden him.”
“It was the happiest moment when I managed to take off my shoes. You can take off your shoes, but you will not be ready for the fair in the capital,” said the doctor, “so I was happy for five seconds, and sad for 20 minutes.”
Fernandez was even happier a few days ago when her doctor gave her the green light to return to competition after more than two months of playing. She is seeded 13th on the loaded court at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers and will play in the playoffs in the first round. The good news? The Montreal native returned home to Canada, in front of familiar fans, family and friends.
bad? She’s in the absurdly talented top quarter – alongside No. 1 Iga Swiatek, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, multiple Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka, Garbine Muguruza and Osaka, as well as Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic.
“I feel good, I feel happy to be back on the field,” Fernandez said. “Foot is great. It looks like a brand new foot. We just tried to accept the situation and I think we’ve done a great job of understanding that this is a bad moment. But at least we get through this bad moment as a family and see it as kind of a silver lining.”
There were a few weeks of hopping her left foot up and down, and a few more weeks when walking was limited and another maneuvering with boots. Fernandez enjoyed extra time with her family, being able to watch more TV than usual – and this is the first – the satisfaction that comes from reading a good book.
“In the past, I was a hardliner and didn’t want to read books,” she said. “The last few weeks I’ve been reading more and enjoying it – that was definitely surprising.”
She has always been a fan of true detective crime stories on TV and now she is reading the series “Girl, Missing”.
“I always try to resolve the issue before the show is over,” Fernandez said. “Most of the time I am wrong. Using the thinking process, trying to figure things out, the same way I would on the tennis court, to solve problems.”
Fernandez is part of a formidable group of players born after the turn of the new century that transformed tennis. Swiatek, who won 37 games in a row earlier this year, was born in 2001. Emma Radocano, the winner of that US Open match, and Fernandez attended in 2002. Coco Gauff, who reached the finals of the French Open, was born This year he is eighteen years old. in 2004.
According to Fernandez, their individual successes help create a collective synergy that they can all benefit from.
“We’ve all been through that phase of being young and losing [WTA matches] Fernandez said. “Then from afar, I could see Coco doing amazing things, Iga doing amazing things, and that definitely motivated me, ‘Okay, I want to do that. “
“So it’s a great dynamic between all of us. Because we see it as an opportunity to improve the sport and motivate young girls to pursue their dreams. Not necessarily in tennis, but in other professions. It could be football, engineering, whatever they decide to do.”
It wasn’t long ago that Fernandez attempted to fulfill her tennis dream. She spent most of the 2019 season playing ITF tournaments across Canada and in places like Waco, Texas, Carmont, CA and Bonita Springs, CA. But in August of that year, the 16-year-old got a wild card in the main draw in Toronto. It quickly ended with a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Marie Pozkova.
“At the time I was in awe of seeing all these professionals,” Fernandez said. “I remember one moment, when I saw Venus walking in front of me. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, Venus Williams just passed me.’ Then sharing court with Simona Halep. I was nervous. I didn’t know how to talk to her during doubles. She was one of the Those introductions to the tour.”
Reaching the US Open final a year ago was a watershed moment for Fernandes, and she is eager to achieve some similar results. It’s easy to forget that she reached the quarter-finals earlier this year at Roland Garros before a foot injury occurred. Her patience will be tested once again as she tries to regain her place among the elite players.
“I think I’m just going to try and enjoy my time on the court, and secondly, see how I feel physically and mentally,” Fernandez said. “Because training feels great, but the tennis match is a whole new world. Hopefully everything will go well.
“We can only get a better championship with the championship. I hope to be ready by the US Open. But that is in a very long time.”