Jessica Pegula: Who is the world’s richest tennis player and how is she impressing on the WTA tour?


Jessica Pegula has had an impressive start to 2021, but how much do you know about the American player?

A career-high ranking of 31st –– she has already won more matches this year than any other season on tour.

Pegula plays world number two Naomi Osaka in the second round of the Italian Open as she bids for her second WTA title.

Born in New York, the 27-year-old is of Korean descent and is the daughter and heiress of natural gas Tycoon Terry Pegula. The businessman owns NFL side Buffalo Bills and is worth over five billion dollars according to Forbes.

Equally, her mother Kim has been described as one of the most powerful women in sports. She is both the president of the Bills and the Buffalo Sabers.

Pegula has often struggled to acknowledge her family legacy but has now learned to come to terms with it.

“When I was younger, It was more like I wanted to make a name for myself,” she said after her third-round win at the Australian Open in February.

“Then I realised as I got older, I should kind of embrace the whole family aspect of it instead.”

Having made her Grand Slam debut back in 2015 at the US Open, Pegula’s career truly kick-started in 2019 when she rose into the top 100 of the world rankings. While she lost out in the first round of the French Open to eventual winner Ashleigh Barty, the then 25-year-old won her first WTA singles title at the Washington Open –– defeating Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the final.

Although 2020 proved to be more of a struggle, there were still notable wins over the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Jennifer Brady and last week’s Madrid Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.

This season, however, has seen the US star go from strength to strength. A fine run at the Australian Open saw Pegula make the quarter-finals –– beating Victoria Azarenka, Kristina Mladenovic, Samantha Stosur and fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

The win against Svitolina was especially eye-catching, as a brutal display of power and efficient ball-striking confirmed that Pegula had the potential to consistently challenge the best.

Indeed, former coach B.J. Steans echoed this thought –– stressing that the American’s talent was evident from a young age.

Speaking to ESPN, Stearns said: “At 12, you could see Jessie had the potential to do what she's doing, but there have been so many people with that type of talent that never break out.

“She always had the drive, and she stayed with it, despite all of the injuries, and persevered and stuck with her dream. Now everything is coming together.”

Pegula faces Naomi Osaka in the second round of the Italian Open tomorrow. The four-time Grand Slam winner has been struggling for form recently and is still yet to win a tournament on the clay court surface.

Given she has already proven herself capable of beating the world’s top players and appears to be full of confidence –– this match promises to be much closer than it may seem on paper.

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