Leylah Fernandez reveals she felt "extremely terrified" moments before her first professional match. Fernandez, who turned 20 earlier this month, has been a pro since 2019. After feeling terrified and losing her first pro match, Fernandez realized the importance of good mental health.
"I remember clearly the very first time I played my professional match, I was extremely terrified to get on court because I didn't know if I was strong enough, if I was fast enough and you know, I think all those doubts I played in my head and I was just kind of psyching myself up," Fernandez said on the WTA's 'The Real Me' series, per Sportskeeda.
"That match, I know I lost and I found out just how important mental health is. Back then, I was afraid to talk about it but now that I have experienced is, I am willing to say 'this moment I was nervous, it's normal, so what can I do to take away those nerves in those important moments or in the next match that's going to come.'
Fernandez on the importance of good mental health
There has been a big focus on athletes' mental health over the last year and a half. Ever since Naomi Osaka opened up about her mental health issues during the 2021 French Open, players have been more open about their mental health problems.
Fernandez, one of the most promising and talented players in the game, is happy to see that there are efforts to help players. "Nobody really knows what's going on in someone's head, nobody has the right path.
So over the years, it has become more clear that it (mental health) has become a problem, and because we're talking about it, that means we're in the right direction, that we're willing to find a solution to it.
That's the beautiful part of it that we're willing to learn from our past mistakes and that we want to be better, we want our next generation to be better, to become better, to make this a better world," Fernandez said.