Tennis

Sofia Kenin Won the Australian Open but Her Father Stole the Show

The tennis world was shocked to see 21-year-old Sofia Kenin come out on top of women’s bracket at the Australian Open. With decisive wins over top players, she added to her already impressive resume, Kenin’s victory was the talk of the town, although it might have taken a backseat to an even bigger story. Throughout the tournament, Kenin’s dad provided entertainment to fans in the form of his celebrations from the bleachers. He went viral in the process.

Who is Sofia Kenin?

Kenin got her start on the ITF circuit as a teenager in 2013 and stayed there for the next two years. Kenin performed well, although her ultimate goal was always to make it into a WTA event. This dream came true in 2015 when Kenin made it into the main draw at the U.S. Open but fell in the first round to Mariana Duque Marino. 

Kenin went back and forth between ITF events and WTA events for the next three years. She reached the third round of the U.S. Open in 2017 but fell to Maria Sharapova. By 2018, she was finding herself in more major tournaments, from the U.S. Open to Wimbledon, but her 2019 season was what got her to where she is today. 

Kenin’s first major win came at the expense of superstar Serena Williams. Although she would eventually fall short of victory at the tournament, this victory helped show that Kenin was a force to be reckoned with along the likes of other young stars Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu. Still, without a Grand Slam win, she was going to need to fight to get into that same category. 

Fast-forward to 2020, and Kenin was hoisting the trophy at the Australian Open after the best tournament of her career. On her side, her father was cheering her on the entire way, and the internet took immediate notice. 

Sofia Kenin’s biggest fan

Alexander Kenin was caught throughout the tournament reacting with joy, fear, sadness, and overwhelming excitement every time his daughter played a set. The wide array of emotions shown by him took Twitter and the rest of the internet by storm, while other moments, such as his apparent filming of Sofia’s victory speech, endeared him to the fans. 

Alexander bowed his head with every loss and error and screamed to the high heavens every time his daughter performed well. 

According to Yahoo! Sports, Alexander was a Soviet refugee who moved to America with little to his name, so seeing his daughter achieve greatness at such an early age was a special sight to behold. 

Sofia beams when talking about her father, telling people after victory, “I am just so happy. I love this moment with my dad. I love you, dad. We work so hard. I love you so much. And, Mum, I love you too, of course.”

In a world where Lavar Ball and other sports parents can make headlines for interfering with the careers of their children and received negative press along the way, Sofia and Alexander displayed a heartwarming fondness for each other, and that may only grow as Kenin’s game does. 

Where to go now?

The victory at the Australian Open was huge for Sofia and her family, and at 21 years of age, she should have plenty of years to grow this legacy. With women’s tennis in the middle of an apparent passing of the guard between the younger generation and the older one, Kenin has planted herself firmly in the next generation of tennis superstars. With her father by her side, she will have plenty of support behind her wherever it goes from here.