Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin on proving the doubters wrong and how Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu inspired her to win her maiden Grand Slam

Sofia Kenin kisses the Daphne Ackhurst Memorial Cup after winning the Australian Open (PA Images)
Sofia Kenin kisses the Daphne Ackhurst Memorial Cup after winning the Australian Open (PA Images)
9:17am, Fri 07 Feb 2020
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Fresh off the back of her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, Sofia Kenin has spoken about what helped her reach her career-high and what the future now holds.

Having already defeated the likes of Zhang Shuai, Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, and World No.1 Ashleigh Barty on the way to the final, the 21 year-old shocked fans and her opponent Garbiñe Muguruza as she fought back from a set down to win in Melbourne.

At 1.70m, Kenin says she has often been overlooked, but channels her emotions into the fighting spirit that got her to where she is today.

Still 'on cloud nine' and talking about how she has managed her emotions in the final, the young American said: "Of course, emotionally, it was really difficult for me. I had to let a lot of stuff out.

"I feel like at that position, that stage, anyone's going to be a bit emotional. But in the past it hasn't helped me. I still need to somehow improve on that and not do that. But it's understandable. It's just a lot of emotions, a lot on the line. 

"It's the finals and I really wanted to win it. I was going with the attitude of I'm going to take this title and you're not going to take this from me."

It wasn't just when making a fightback that she had to try and calm herself. When asked about serving for the championship, she admitted the emotions were there but she has learnt to curb them saying: "It got there, I just try to hide it. Thank God I didn't cry at 5-2.

"I literally cried a few times in the second set [which she won 6-2]. I just felt a little bit emotional."

She admitted the fortnight had been something of an emotional rollercoaster adding: "All these past two weeks, I've been crying every day before my match. It's helped. It's not like I did it on purpose. It just came instantly."

Her father was on hand to be the emotional punchbag she needed. 

"As each match went I felt I was getting deeper into the tournament and I really wanted to win and I was telling my Dad, OK, this is the match. You've got to help me," she said.

He imparted some wise words to his young daughter as the final loomed telling her 'it was just like any other match'.

Sofia celebrates with her father Alex (PA Images)

Kenin, who conquered American teenager Coco Gauff on her way to the final, also claimed a historic victory over Serena Williams at the French Open last year. Reflecting on these as well as some of the heartbreaks she has experienced in the Fed Cup, she acknowledged the depth of talent across the American female tennis players.

She said: "It's just surreal. It's incredible. I feel like after the Fed Cup, it was such an honour just to be a part of it. I was super excited when Kathy Rinaldi (US Fed Cup captain) called. Of course, it was heartbreaking and obviously next year it was also a few heartbreaking matches. But I tried to use that to motivate me and just to fight."

However, it was the inspiring victories of other young players that motivated her. She added: "When I saw Naomi win, Bianca win a Grand Slam, I was super excited. That young age and winning a Slam, I mean, super exciting. You get so much attention.

"I remember I was just like, you know what? What if it would be me? How incredible would that be? I'm just super happy and it's an honour just to be on that beautiful trophy, with so many great champions there. And it will forever be there. So it's just incredible."

Sign up to our newsletter