Resurgent Sofia Kenin proud to prove critics wrong with Wimbledon run
LONDON–Sofia Kenin may have lost her way after her 2020 Grand Slam success to fall out of the top 200 last year but the American has rediscovered her form and been impressive at Wimbledon where she has come through the qualifiers to reach the third round.
Kenin won the Australian Open in 2020 and followed it up with a runners-up finish at Roland Garros, moving up to a career-high number four in the world.
But injuries, a bout of COVID-19, a poor run of form where she lost several first-round matches and a split with her father-coach Alex – only to reunite with him later – saw her drop to 235 in the rankings.
However, she seems to have turned things around and has showed signs of reviving her career at the All England Club where she upset seventh seed Coco Gauff in the first round before dispatching Wang Xinyu in straight sets on Thursday.
“Obviously I’m super excited, just trying to prove some people wrong. Just super proud of myself with the way I really fought through to get here and keeping the momentum going,” she said after booking a third round match with Elina Svitolina.
“I’m just putting in the hard work and it’s paying off… I didn’t have the best results but I felt like this year I started off pretty good overall and I just had to find my way.
“I’ve been fighting it, just hope that I can keep it going.”
Kenin said the turning point was a close match with reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina at Indian Wells earlier this year, where the American narrowly defeated 7-6(6) 7-6(5).
“It was a great match. Of course, a little bit heartbreaking because I lost. But she got to the final of the (2023) Australian Open so I wanted to just see where I am at that point,” Kenin said.
“I did a great job, I just got some confidence off that match. I believed I always could do it.”
Grass is not her favorite surface but Kenin, 24, said the qualifiers helped her come to terms with it.
“If I know every time I’m going to get to the third round at a slam I’ll play qualies (qualifiers),” she said with a smile.
“I felt like I had some really good solid wins in qualies even though they were against tough opponents. I handled my nerves, everything well. Looks obviously easy but it was tough and I feel like those matches definitely gave me confidence.”