Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez says that she hopes to play former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters, who left her speechless when they met at the WTA event in Monterrey earlier this year. The 17 year old Fernandez, who reached the quarter-finals of the WTA Monterrey event, told the WTA website, "Honestly, I was too shy to talk to her.
She's a great legend, and the first time I saw her in person, I just kept looking at her with big eyes and I couldn't produce any words. When I heard the news that she was playing Monterrey, I was telling my coaches that I wanted to play her in the first round.
When I was young, I remember watching her in the finals at the Rogers Cup [Clijsters won the title in 2005]. I was just hoping to play her or practice with her, and playing her in a real match would be a dream come true. Watching her play, and how she acts on and off the court, it's what a true champion is and that's how I'm trying to act...
I'm happy that she's back on court, on the circuit and on the WTA and maybe one day, I can play against her!" Now ranked No. 118 in the world, Fernandez says she believes she has a lot to learn just yet and hopes to continue improving her game and results in the coming months once the tennis circuit resumes.
"Looking back, I've learned a lot that I didn't get the opportunity to learn from the junior circuit or from ITF [tournaments]. I've seen how the level is, week in and week out. I didn't have the experience of playing night matches every day, going to bed at 1:30 in the morning and then playing the same day at night.
Just having that experience, I feel like I've matured and learned a lot about myself and how I should act off court. I feel like I can improve on perfecting my game as always... and trying to reproduce what I showed in these weeks again and again, every day, without any doubts."
The Canadian is also improving her skills off the court - having become a licensed driver and graduating high school. "I’ve been practicing driving with my parents. It was hard in the beginning, because I was scared being behind the wheel.
Right now, I’m more comfortable… and I’m not as indecisive as before. Just having my family in the car has been helping me. It’s been a fun experience with them. I’m close to getting my license in a few months, so hopefully, I can take the test... and get my license soon when everything starts again”.