BELGRADE -- Before she played her first match at the Belgrade tennis tournament on Monday, Leylah Fernandez of Quebec received the Billie Jean King Cup 'Heart' award.

Tennis Canada announced the news in a press release. The organization said the honour was given to her following her performance in Canada's 4-0 win over Serbia in April.

Fernandez's two singles victories helped secure Canada's spot in next year's qualifiers. Fernandez defeated Olga Danilovic, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 and Nina Stojanovic, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The 18-year-old from Laval was in the running with Britain's Katie Boulter, Magdalena French of Poland and Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

The winner of the award -- which honours players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on the court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team at the Billie Jean King Cup -- was chosen by public vote.

The award comes with a $3,000 cheque that Fernandez can donate to the charity of her choice. The Canadian decided to donate to Table de sécurité alimentaire de Villeray in Montreal.

'To represent my country and be part of such a great team means a lot to me. (...) After such a difficult year for all of us, it's amazing to have the opportunity to celebrate goodness and pass it on,' she said,

Fernandez is facing Slovenia's Polona Hercog in a first-round duel Monday; the start of the match was delayed due to bad weather and began at 9 a.m. Quebec time.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 17, 2021.