Leylah Fernandez just wants her ‘foot to be okay again’ after being left ‘heartbroken’ by injury

Leylah Fernandez receives treatment on her foot

Like any athlete, Leylah Fernandez would love to win matches and tournaments, but after her injury layoff she has been forced to adjust her goals.

The Canadian had a fine run at the French Open as she reached the quarter-final, but she struggled with a foot injury and eventually lost in three sets against Maria Trevisan.

It was a double blow for the teenager as the injury was a lot more serious than she had anticipated as a grade three stress fracture forced her to miss Wimbledon.

In an interview with TSN, the 19-year-old admits she didn’t think much of the “pinch” in her foot when it first started to hurt.

“I felt a pinch in my third round match and I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “I thought it would be a normal little nick on my foot, but then as the week progressed it was getting worse and worse. In my last match, and even the day before, it wasn’t that great. We were hoping it would be good for the quarterfinals, but it did not go well.”

She added: “It was a sharp pain. At first it was a pinch and then afterwards it was a sharp pain. It was hard to put my foot down and then it was just hard to walk normally.”

Fernandez had been playing her best tennis of the year at Roland Garros and many made her favourite to reach the semi-final where she would have played fellow young gun Coco Gauff of the United States.

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The teenager admits she felt deflated after finding out just how serious the injury was.

“It was hard. The first few days, I was very heartbroken. I was hoping it would just be a sprain or that a nerve got [pinched] or a muscle in my foot had something wrong and it would just be a few weeks, but a stress fracture set us back even more,” she said.

“I was very heartbroken because I knew I was close to a semi-final of a Grand Slam and potentially playing against Coco Gauff. That would’ve been a great match. I remember playing her in the semi-finals of Roland Garros juniors just a few years ago [in 2018]. It would’ve been so much fun to see us both in that same situation a few years later.

“It was heartbreaking because there were so many what-ifs and so many moments that I think could’ve been beautiful. The stress fracture set us back a little bit and took away the progress from the tournament and the confidence that I had coming into those matches. It took that away a little bit, but it’s just a small setback.”

The 2021 US Open finalist is on the mend and she is set to return to competitive action at the Citi Open in Washington at the beginning of August.

And for now the main aim is just to play tennis again.

“Getting back and being healthy. We just want the foot to be okay and the body to be ready for competition, for long matches, for hard matches, because all the players at these tournaments are extremely good,” she said.

“I just want to be there with my body feeling great, mind feeling fine and enjoying my time on court and in competition. We don’t want to think of any results. Of course, I want to win. Every athlete wants to win a match, wants to win the tournament, but for me the big thing is my body feeling great by the end of the year.”