The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

407 ETR Morning Commute: Qualifying continues on Family Weekend as Serena, Leylah meet tennis youth

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August 7, 2022
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Serena Williams poses with the ball kids.

Photo : Peter Power/Tennis Canada

There’s no shortage of things to do this weekend at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers. Sunday (Aug. 7) marks the second and final day of qualifying – and the completion of 407 ETF Family Weekend.

From face painting and yoga classes to serve speed contests and more, the family weekend provides a relaxed atmosphere as the action intensifies with eight main draw spots at stake.

Here, five things to know in our Daily Commute presented by 407 ETR.

1 // Qualifying Day 2: Top seed Bouzkova a win away from main draw

The last time women’s tennis came to Toronto in 2019 it was Czech player Marie Bouzkova who made the most of qualifying for the main draw, marching to the final four before bowing out to Serena Williams in three sets.

Bouzkova is back in qualifying this weekend as the top seed, fresh off her first-ever WTA title – won just last weekend in front of home fans in Prague.

The Czech dropped just two games against Valentini Grammatikopoulou and will meet Wimbledon semi-finalist Tatjana Maria for a spot in the main draw.

Eight of those spots are up for grabs on Sunday, with Donna Vekic, Christina McHale and Ajla Tomljanovic looking for main draw berths, as well.

2 // Monday madness: Serena set for day; Venus, Leylah for evening

While qualifying is set to wrap up on Sunday, main draw Monday is already taking shape, with Serena Williams, the three-time Toronto winner, set to feature in the afternoon session.

Her sister Venus Williams will play in the evening, as will Canadian No. 1 Leylah Annie Fernandez. It’s the first time Fernandez, 19, is in action since a foot injury she sustained at the French Open.

The Williams sisters are together in Toronto for the first time since 2015. Serena made her debut this event in 2000, while Venus played in Toronto way back in 1995.

3 // Mental Timeout: Garbi tries yoga; Iga signs pledge

The Mental Timeout wellness project was launched earlier this year by Tennis Canada, and it is focused on the mental health of all those involved in tennis.

Mental Timeout featured as part of Family Weekend, with a yoga class open to the public that featured a special guest in two-time major champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain.

While Muguruza was practicing her best “Namaste,” world No. 1 Iga Świątek signed the Positive Court Pledge on site at Sobeys Stadium – which is part of the Mental Timeout series and is a written commitment to ensure a positive environment for all athletes performing in Canada, making them feel supported and uplifted.

4 // Serena Williams meets NBO ball crew

While qualifiers are looking to book their place in the main draw, one of the stars of the sport was making dreams come true as Serena joined the National Bank Open ball crew for a special meet and greet and photo opportunity.

Photo : @wta

Williams, 40, was runner-up here the last time the women featured in Toronto in 2019, and returns to the WTA for the first time in over a year, having made a comeback to the sport at Wimbledon just a few weeks ago.

5 // Leylah takes tough questions – from young reporters

Fernandez, still just 19, was the 2021 US Open runner-up and will look to wow the Canadian crowd on Monday night. Much like Serena, she took time out of her pre-tournament prep on Saturday, meeting with a group of young female tennis players from around Ontario.

The group lobbed questions to Fernandez in a press conference format, drawing smiles and laughs from the Montreal native.

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