‘All my dreams are coming true’: Leylah Fernandez, Felix Auger-Aliassime home after U.S. Open
MONTREAL -- Fresh from New York’s MET Gala, Quebec tennis stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez are still pinching themselves from their whirlwind ride in the U.S. Open and their newfound brush with celebrity life.
The Quebec duo, who have won the hearts of Canadians across the country, landed in Montreal Tuesday to speak at a news conference about what it was like to represent Canada in tennis’s biggest event.
“Everything's coming in so fast that I'm so happy that all the hard work and all the sacrifices I've done over the years is paying off, and all of my dreams are coming true,” said Fernandez.
“I'm just going to enjoy the moment and I'm going to take this as a positive way, learn from my mistakes and learn from the experience.”
Fernandez, who is originally from Laval, turned heads at the tournament after defeating top players Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka, who had formerly been ranked No. 1, in the lead up to the U.S. Open. She was ultimately defeated in the final to the U.K.'s Emma Raducanu.
The 19-year-old said she’s proud of her efforts at the Open and hopes her journey will inspire other young female athletes like her.
“It feels amazing, you know -- not many people really watch female tennis, so I'm very glad that I was able to do something special on the court that inspires other people," she said, adding that she wants more fans "to watch our matches, not only mine, but also women's tennis because there's so many good players."
Auger-Aliassime’s hopes of playing in the U.S. Open final were wiped away when he lost in straight sets last Friday to second-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Like Fernandez, the Montreal native said he, too, hopes he can inspire young Canadian athletes.
“Hopefully I can put smiles on faces, I can inspire, I can motivate, and I think that's, for me... even more rich than anything else that I can do on the tennis court,” the 21-year-old said.
The pair had just come from the MET Gala in New York, where they brushed shoulders with their icons and favourite actors. Fernandez gushed about being in the same room as Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart.
“'Oh my gosh, she's here. I can't believe it,'" she recalled saying to herself. "But unfortunately, I was too chicken to actually talk to her."
Fernandez and Auger-Aliassime are both now brand ambassadors for the low-fare Canadian airline company Flair Airlines.