“These were difficult years, because they might only see their mother twice a year,” Jorge said. “In the end we decided to move to Florida. It’s the mecca of tennis and we could have the whole family back together.”
To learn and coach the art of tennis, Jorge Fernandez immersed himself in the sport, read texts and watched videos on the Internet. His goal was to strike a balance between work and pleasure to ensure that Leylah never burned out. He taught his daughter, who is six feet tall, to study Justine Henin, who stands at 5-6¾, as it seemed an appropriate blueprint for success.
Despite her size, Leylah Fernandez is a powerful ball striker. Her father claims Leylah is “the best powerhouse on the tour,” pound for pound, and she derives confidence from her strength. Even before going to court against Osaka, she said she knew she could beat the four-time major champion.
“From a young age I knew I was capable of beating anyone,” she said Friday night, before noting that it was past her bedtime.
When she won the French Open junior title in 2019, Leylah Fernandez asked her father if they could celebrate at McDonald’s. Always diligent about nutrition, and in a city known for its culinary expertise, Fernandez chose the fast food restaurant as a way to splurge. Her father agreed.
“There were two of us,” Jorge said. “It was sweet, but at the same time the whole family should have been there. It’s one of the hard parts of tennis life, all the travel.”
Jorge Fernandez was unable to attend his daughter’s victory over Osaka. He was in Florida on business. But before going to court, Leylah called him for the strategic game plan, and he was true to his ethos.