A few months in the past, Leylah Annie Fernandez was Faraway from a househprevious identify in Canada. However after a collection of lovely performances On the US Open, she is the toast of the metropolis – french toast with further maple syrup, to be exact.

The 19-yr-previous from Quebec celebrated her birthday simply days in the past And she or he joins her fellow Montrealer, 21-yr-previous Felix Auger-Aliassime, Inside the semi-finals of the US Open. The pair play The lads’s And women’s world No 2s Inside their respective semi-finals: Auger-Aliassime in the direction of Daniil Medvedev on Friday Evening time whereas Fernandez faces Aryna Sabalenka beneath the Arthur Ashe lights on Thursday.

It’s a nice period for Canadian tennis. Since Wimbledon 2014, Canada has had six completely different grand slam semi-finalists – Auger-Aliassime, Fernandez, Bianca Andreescu, Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov. What’s extra Auger-Aliassime is The primary Canadian male To Obtain the semi-finals in US Open historic previous.

The rise Is not any fluke. Canada, regardmuch less of being well-known for winter sports activities, has invested closely in tennis and The outcomes are Starting To Wind up to be apparent. A lot extra encouraging, the recreationrs symbolize the nation’s variety – Bouchard is French Canadian, Raonic was born in What’s not anyw Montenegro, Andreescu’s mom and father emigrated from Romania whereas Shapovalov’s mcompletely different is Ukrainian Jewish and his father is a Russian Orthodox Christian. Of this yr’s semi-finalists, Fernandez is of Ecuadorian and Filipino descent whereas Auger-Aliassime’s father was born in Togo.

However Canadian tennis Isn’t with out its factors When it Includes race. Francoise Abanda, furtherly from Montreal, has been public about her wrestles Contained in the system as a Black Canadian participant. In 2018, she was 40 places greater than Bouchard On the earth rankings but she says she acquired far much less safety and assist.

“I’m not asking to be uncovered like a No 1 participant, I’m not asking to get The identical recognition as completely different recreationrs Who’ve achieved extra,” she tprevious the Canadian Press On the time. “I’m simply saying ThOn There is a minimal that typically I don’t even get.”

Abanda was on my radar as a Outcome of she Is Amongst The numerous few Black tennis recreationrs in Canada. I used to be not surprised To Take heed to her remark, And in addition unsurprised at how few Canadian networks or information businesses even coated her remarks.

Dr Courtney Szto is Definitely one of Canada’s main sports activities sociologists. In an e-mail, she tprevious me that tennis doesn’t Appear to have as much of the overt racism that hockey does in Canada. Neverthemuch less, she added that We ought to always not take An extreme quantity of away from The fact that racism in Canadian tennis Isn’t talked about.

“I really feel racism in tennis is a dialog predominantly pushed by Black women and we haven’t seen Canadian tennis recreationrs actually embrace anti-racism with their full chest,” Szto wrote. “We don’t Converse about racism in Canadian tennis as a Outcome of we don’t Converse about racism in Canada.”

Fernandez has an Ecuadorian father and a Filipino-Canadian mcompletely different. Auger-Aliassime is Black. To the delight of tennis followers and sugar bush opperiodtors of the north, Fernandez credited maple syrup for the current success of Canadian tennis. “The Canadian maple syrup Is fantastic,” she tprevious the US Open crowd in a submit-recreation interview. And Auger-Aliassime agreed.

The nod to a staple of Canadiana is heartwarming but will the accomplishments of two youthful tennis stars be enough to combOn the racism that does exist Inside The sport? Will the Canadian tennis group gloss over any factors, or ignore the much-needed dialogs that Want to proceed?

Based mostly on Szto, recreationrs with A quantity of racial background – like Fernandez, Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu – immediate Questions on who will get To symbolize a nation. Raducanu was born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese language mcompletely different but moved to The united kingdom as A toddler, and now symbolizes Good Britain. An factor of the system of racism is the questioning of nationwide id (One of many first Inquiries to seem Everytime you google Raducanu is “How is Emma Raducanu British?”).

While the strains of a tennis courtroom are clear, who symbolizes which nation, and what racial id They’ve Isn’t as outlined. Nor ought to It is. Naomi Osaka symbolizes her mixed Haitian and Japanese id with much love and respect. And she has managed to wrestle racism and create discussions round athletes’ psychological well being whereas placing intrusive journalists Inside their place.

While Fernandez’s allure has finisheared her to tennis followers Throughout the globe, We ought to always hope thOn the Canadian tennis group assist her and Auger-Aliassime, as they proceed To understand a predominantly white sport.

In the meantime, I shall toast their success with photographs of maple syrup.


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