Arthur Ashe Stadium announcer Andy Taylor recaps Leylah Fernandez’s Semifinal triumph over World #2 Aryna Sabalenka – her third top-5 victory of the 2021 US Open. Leylah’s wake of destruction includes defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, World #5 Elina Svitolina – and now Sabalenka.
Support skyrocketed following the Osaka upset; and with each win, the fan base grows ten fold. Tonight, Tour veteran Sabalenka was clearly the villain, as Arthur Ashe Stadium willed the Canadian to the finish line. Down an early break in set-1, Fernandez broke back before the third changeover, saved set-point, then secured the early lead by winning the tiebreak. It set the tone for the match. Sure, Aryna had the shots and the power – but Fernandez had the will and determination to withstand any onslaught.
Leylah is the second Canadian teenage US Open Finalist in the past three years. In 2019, Bianca Andreescu stunned the field, then defeated 5-time champion Serena Williams in the championship match. And speaking of Serena — with tonight’s victory, Fernandez became the youngest player in 22-years to slay three top-5 talents at a Major. During the 1999 US Open, 17-year-old Serena defeated Monica Seles (4), Lindsay Davenport (2) and Martina Hingis (1) to capture her first Grand Slam title.
Andy Taylor | The Voice of the US Open
Known as the Voice of the US Open, 2021 marks Taylor’s 20th year shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates every player’s introduction — highlighting their career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As a voice talent, he also narrates video content and special announcements broadcast across the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. For twenty years, his distinctive sound and energy has helped drive and enhance the fan experience — Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating the sport and its colorful cast of characters.
First meeting. Biggest win of Leylah’s career — so far. Fernandez is a Grand Slam Finalist.
Leylah Fernandez -73- (CAN) | Semifinal Announcer Introduction
What she has accomplished over the past eleven days — is mind-blowing. In the last three rounds – with her back against the wall – she earned deciding-set victories over 2-time and defending US Open Champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 US Open Champion Angelique Kerber, and World #5 Elina Svitolina – and tonight, at just 19-years-old, takes to the sport’s biggest stage in pursuit of her first Grand Slam Final. Last week, she started this year’s US Open as the World #73. On Monday, she will crack the WTA’s top-50 for the first time. From Canada, making her Grand Slam Semifinal debut – please welcome Leylah Fernandez.
Fernandez just celebrated her 19th birthday (September 6th)
In 2020, upset World #5 Belinda Bencic in Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier
- SF — W —  Aryna Sabalenka -02- (BLR) | Score: 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4
- QF — W —  Elina Svitolina -05- (UKR) | Score: 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) | RECAP / 2:24
- R4 — W —  Angelique Kerber -17- (GER) | Score: 5-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 | ARMSTRONG / 2:15
- R3 — W —  Naomi Osaka -03- (JPN) | Score: 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-4 | RECAP / 2:03
- R2 — W — Kaia Kanepi -70- (EST) | Score: 7-5, 7-5 | COURT-11 / 1:56
- R1 — W — Ana Konjuh -88- (CRO) | Score: 7-6(3), 6-2 | COURT-14 / 1:45
 Aryna Sabalenka -02- (BLR) | Semifinal Announcer Introduction
No one has won more matches this year on the WTA Tour than this hard-hitting 23-year-old. On Tuesday night, she defeated Roland Garros Champion Barbora Krejcikova – and tonight, is back under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium, competing in her second consecutive Grand Slam Semifinal. In all, she owns 10 WTA Singles titles, 6 Doubles titles – and is a 2-time Grand Slam Doubles Champion, having captured her first – on this court – 2-years-ago. From Belarus, back in New York with a career-high ranking of World #2 – please welcome Aryna Sabalenka.
She’s lost only a single set to reach tonight’s Semifinal match
At Wimbledon, fell to Karolina Pliskova in first Grand Slam Semifinal (after winning the first set)
Earlier this year, defeated World #1 Ashleigh Barty in Madrid to win her 4th career WTA-1000 title
- SF — L — Leylah Fernandez -73- (CAN) | Score: 6-7(3), 6-4, 4-6
- QF — W —  Barbora Krejcikova -09- (CZE) | Score: 6-1, 6-4 | RECAP / 1:25
- R4 — W —  Elise Mertens -16- (BEL) | Score: 6-4, 6-1 | ARMSTRONG / 1:11
- R3 — W —  Danielle Collins -29- (USA) | Score: 6-3, 6-3 | ARMSTRONG / 1:29
- R2 — W — Tamara Zidansek -40- (SLO) | Score: 6-3, 6-1 | GRANDSTAND / 0:59
- R1 — W — Nina Stojanovic -94- (SRB) | Score: 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-0 | ARMSTRONG / 2:24
US OPEN | Open Era Women’s Singles Champions
MILESTONE ON THE LINE AT THE 2021 US OPEN
No man has achieved the Calendar Grand Slam (winning all four Major titles in the same year) since the great Rod Laver accomplished the feat for a second time in 1969. World #1 Novak Djokovic intends to rewrite that history by capturing his 4th US Open title.
Now a 20-time Grand Slam Champion – Djokovic is the reigning Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion. He is one of only 3 men to earn the Career Grand Slam twice (Roy Emerson and Rod Laver). In anticipation of Novak’s milestone, all four Grand Slam trophies are in New York for the fortnight.
That said, last month at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Djokovic was poised to become the first player since Steffi Graf (1988) to earn the Calendar Golden Slam (winning all four Major title and Olympic Gold in the same year). In the Olympic Semifinals, Alexander Zverev erased that possibility with an improbable, come-from-behind victory over the World #1. Zverev went on to capture the Gold Medal. Djokovic fell in the Bronze Medal match.
141 YEARS IN THE MAKING: THE 54th US OPEN TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The US Open, as we know it today, began in 1881. Four years after the first Wimbledon Championships, members of the Newport Casino in Rhode Island established the U.S. National Singles Championship. Popularity of the sport exploded during the following eight decades. And by 1968, the Open Era began, finally allowing professionals to compete alongside amateurs. Ever since, the sports four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open – cemented their status as the premiere events in professional tennis. Today, these Major trophies and titles are the pinnacle of career achievement.
GRAND SLAM TENNIS TOURNAMENTS – A LONG AND STORIED HISTORY
First, a quick timeline reflecting the roots of the Grand Slam:
- 1877 – The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club organized the first Wimbledon Championship.
- 1881 – Members of the Newport Casino in Rhode Island (now home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame) created the first U.S. National Singles Championship.
- 1891 – France joined the party. Though the tournament itself was not recognized as a Grand Slam until international participation was allowed in 1925.
- 1905 – Australia’s Major began as the Australasian Championships, earning Grand Slam status by 1924.
THE OPEN ERA BUILDS GRAND SLAM PRESTIGE
For decades, the Grand Slams only showcased amateur competition, the U.S. National Championship included. Prize money was paltry. Professional talents earned a living through traveling tours, rather than tournaments like Grand Slams. Essentially, two or more professionals would travel together from city to city. Competing night after night. Earning money through ticket sales.
Then in 1968, the Open Era began – allowing both amateur and professional athletes in a tournament format. That year, France hosted the first Open, followed by England and the United States. Brisbane hosted Australia’s Open debut the following January. With the sport’s top global talents all converging on the same four annual tournaments, the Grand Slams put themselves in position to grow alongside the popularity of the game.
Today, the US Open is the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world. In 2019, over 720-thousand fans passed through the gates of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. That year, Singles champions earned over $3.8-million, while players who fell in the First Round grossed $60-thousand.
To put that in perspective: In 1968, the inaugural US Open committed $14,000 for the Men’s Singles Champion. When Arthur Ashe won – because he was an amateur – he turned down the prize money. Instead, the legendary humanitarian settled for a $20 per diem. What a difference 54-years makes.
COVID-19 AND THE 2021 US OPEN
Last year, the 2020 US Open was the first Major to return after COVID-19 transformed life as we knew it. No fans. Cavernous, empty stadiums. Separate “bubbles” for players and crew. Regular coronavirus testing. Strict social distancing.
Today, thanks to vaccines and those who’ve chosen to receive them, the gates are open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center — with some specific requirements.
QUICK COURSE CORRECTION BEFORE DAY ONE
Originally, in the months leading up to the 2021 US Open, all fans were welcome (vaccinated and unvaccinated), provided each guest followed CDC guidance based on individual vaccination status. However, on the Friday before the start of main-draw play, the New York City Mayor’s office changed course — instead mandating that all Arthur Ashe Stadium ticket holders provide proof of vaccination.
In response, due to continued concern over COVID’s highly-infectious Delta variant, the USTA extended the Mayor’s mandate to every US Open ticket holder — including those with passes to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand, and fans with grounds admission tickets. In other words, to enter the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis center, all ticket holders 12-years and older must provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Acceptable forms of proof include: CDC Vaccination Card (photo/photocopy accepted), NYC Vaccination Record (photo/photocopy accepted), NYC COVID Safe App, Excelsior Pass, or Excelsior Pass Plus.
That said, unlike events held before vaccines were widely available, there are no temperature checks or health questionnaires to complete before entering the grounds. Additionally, negative COVID tests are not required to get on site. Simply put, each guest must be vaccinated.
COVID’s grip continues, as we navigate an uncertain landscape full of both vaccinated and unvaccinated tennis fans. Responsibly, the USTA is relying on the guidance of the CDC, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and the New York City Department of Health to hopefully ensure a safe and healthy experience for all.