Jorge Fernandez revealed he was trying to inspire Leylah Fernandez as a kid by telling her to imagine that she was playing Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or even Roger Federer.
Fernandez, 19, made her first Grand Slam final at the US Open.
En route to making the US Open final, Fernandez beat a number of high-profile names.
Fernandez’s run to the US Open final included wins over Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.
“When I was spending time with her, I used to tell her that when I played football as a child, I used to imagine myself playing in the World Cup. Having that imagination is so important when you’re young. And so when we were on the court, I would tell her, ‘Imagine you’re playing (Maria) Sharapova, imagine you’re playing Serena Williams.’ I even told her to imagine playing against Roger Federer.”
Fernandez ended up choosing tennis
“And it was just a game,” Jorge claimed. “I didn’t want to push her at all to become a professional tennis player. And when we started to watch tennis on TV or YouTube, to take tennis seriously, she started to dream of playing against the best in the world. And I would say to her: ‘Yes, yes, of course, you’re going to make it’, as any other father would have said. But she took it seriously. I loved it, I loved that she imagined it, it was so beautiful and innocent. That’s how it happened. Because you have to know that we are not a tennis family. We didn’t watch tennis on TV. It all came from her.”
Unsurprisingly, Jorge was proud of his daughter.
“I am really happy for her and the achievements she has made. But the pride doesn’t come from the success she has had, the pride comes from the fact that she never gave up. And that is something that makes me very proud,” Jorge noted.