World No. 24 Leylah Fernandez's father and coach Jorge Fernandez has revealed that there was a time when no one believed that the Canadian could be a successful tennis player. However, he never stopped believing in her.
In an interview with CBC Sports, the 2021 US Open runner-up and her father looked back on the Canadian's breakthrough year, as well as discussing how their personal and professional relationships overlap.
Reacting to the criticism people have about athlete-parent relationships, Jorge pointed out that there was a time when everyone gave up on his daughter's future as a professional. But he was the only one who kept believing in her. That's why he's still Fernandez's coach.
"People have to understand that when nobody really believed in her, when people thought that she was too small and that she was too weak and that she didn't have a game, I was the one who believed in her," Jorge said.
Leylah Fernandez echoed the same sentiment, saying that her father was her biggest supporter in addition to being a good coach. She also remarked that just looking at her father during matches was enough to fill her with the confidence that things will be fine at the end of the day.
"He knows exactly what to tell me before a match, what to look for during practices, and then he's also my greatest support," Leylah said. "He gives me strength and every time I look at him I know I have the confidence do anything and tackle any problem," she added.
"I've been trying to quit since Leylah was seven" - Jorge Fernandez
Jorge Fernandez confessed that being a coach as well as a parent is not easy as the two emotions are contradictory at times. He admitted that it's his wish to find Fernandez a full-time coach and added that the Canadian will have one very soon.
"I've been trying to quit since she was seven. She knows that everything that I do is for her to be independent in the very near future," Jorge said. "I will always be part of her team, but the objective is for her to have her own coach," he added."
Although he has been interviewing a number of coaches, Jorge rued that they were yet to find a suitable coach who is compatible with the vision he and Leylah Fernandez share.
"We start talking about philosophies, objectives, how you see the family, the business, Leylah and sometimes we just don't match," Jorge said. "Although we are very professional, it just doesn't match," he added.