Leylah Fernandez (R) and Billie Jean King at the 2021 Sports Illustrated Awards
MANILA, Philippines – 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez rubbed shoulders with one of tennis’ greats during the Sports Illustrated Awards at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time).
Fernandez met with Billie Jean King, a former World No. 1 and is considered one of the sport’s legends
The 78-year-old won a whopping 39 grand slams during her time as a tennister in the 60s and 70s.
Also a staunch advocate for gender equality in sports, King posted a photo of her and Fernandez at the awards show.
“Happy to be in the company of so many terrific athletes tonight, including [Leylah Fernandez],” King wrote.
Big winners at the awards show were USA’s Suni Lee and Caeleb Dressel, who won Sports Illustrated’s Athlete of the Year.
Fernandez, representing Canada but of Filipino and Ecuadorian descent, rose to prominence after a Cinderella run to the Finals of Women’s Singles in the 2021 US Open in New York.
The 19-year-old, despite falling to fellow teen star Emma Raducanu in the final, toppled some of the highest ranked players in the tour like Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Keber in her stunning campaign at Flushing Meadows.
Fernandez was also nominated for WTA Most Improved Player of the Year.