Jessica Pegula: The daughter of a US billionaire who could be America’s next grand slam champion



For many people, the new year offers an opportunity to strive to be better – at work, in relationships or to achieve one’s wildest dreams.

Jessica Pegula, America’s top-ranked women’s tennis player, seems to have gotten the memo.

The 28-year-old got off to a flying start in 2023 with his first career win. Iga Światekbeat the world No. 1 6-2, 6-2 in the opening match of the United Cup semi-finals in Sydney earlier this month.

and with Australian Open At full throttle, more success could be on the way for the American, who has reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in the past two years. On Friday, Pegula eased past Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 6-0, 6-2 in her third-round match.

Eurosport expert Barbara Shett told CNN Sport: “Jess definitely has a chance to win her first Grand Slam title.

“I saw him play against Iga Światek And he really surprised me. He literally knocked Iga off the court. If she repeats this level, she can win the Australian Open.

Ranked third in the world, Pegula belongs to a different kind of sporting dynasty. His father, billionaire Terry Pegula, and mother, Kim, sit at the helm of a sports empire, co-owning the NFL. Buffalo bills and the Buffalo Sabers of the National Hockey League.

His father, according to Forbes, is worth about $6.7 billion estimate, made his fortune in oil and gas through East Resources Company. After selling the company’s assets, his parents bought the Bills for $189 million in 2010 and $1.4 billion in 2014.

“He’s really a workhorse that I think defies a lot of stereotypes and expectations that you might have with someone of his background,” Rockets magazine senior editor Ben Rothenberg told CNN Sports.

Tennis star Pegula is a huge fan of the Bills, often juggling tennis commitments to make time to watch games.

Outside of tennis, she owns her own skincare brand, Ready24. She also has a soft spot for furry friends and founded “A Landing Paw,” a charity that connects people with rescued and trained service animals, with her husband, Taylor Gahagen.

Pegula made her debut in tennis at the age of seven, playing as her older sister Laura took up the sport.

“She played tennis in junior and college, so I was always around the tennis court, watching her matches, watching her practice. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my God, I’m never going to be able to hit as hard as them or be as good as them,'” Pegula said, according to Forbes.

“But I stuck with it, and I started doing some tennis camps after school, three, four days a week. Actually that’s how I started. ”

Pegula has a reputation for being one

His journey has not always been smooth, and injuries have halted his career. A knee injury in 2014 sidelined him for a year and a half, while a hip surgery in 2017 was his “hardest comeback”. told reporters.

“I didn’t even know if I wanted to come back. It was going to be very difficult,” he admitted. But then, “I think I just got over it. I was like, ‘Whatever, I’m going to fight this again.’

According to Rothenberg, after her injuries and because of her unique family background, it would have been easy to assume that she would “withdraw from the court”.

“Unlike many players, she was not playing to support her parents and her family,” he explained. “But she’s really shown incredible commitment, dedication and passion for tennis, putting herself through all the different injuries and playing really well so far.”

In addition to being number three in singles, she is one of the busiest players on tour and “often plays very professional doubles,” he added.

Pegula’s breakthrough finally came in 2021, where – after starting the year ranked No. 62 – he finished the season in the top 20 after five quarterfinals, a pair of semifinals and seven top-10 finishes.

According to the USTA, her coach, David Witt, said in 2021, “She’s just a down-to-earth, genuine person and she works really hard. “He’s very easy to get along with. We have fun when we are working hard. And we just clicked,” he said added

Australia's Ashley Barty defeated Pegula in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last year.

Rothenberg agrees. “It’s been a couple of years in a row now, people really thought she was kind of maxing out what people probably thought was her ceiling. She continues to defy the bars that have been set for her, the limits set by the predictors in sports.

“You bet against her at your peril, even if she’s starting from increasingly strong positions. And he started off very, very strong,” he said.

This, he said, is shown by the reliability of his game.

“Pegula was really unbelievably consistent in beating the players she had to beat in the bigs, and she stuck to her seeds, she didn’t get upset – that’s really rare and really impressive, ” he explained.

In three of the four Grand Slams last year, Pegula lost in the quarterfinals to the now-retired eventual champion. Ash Barty at the Australian Open and Swiatek at the French Open and the US Open. Reaching this stage of the tournament, he joked, has become his “MO”.

Last year at the Guadalajara Open, Pegula earned his biggest win and trophy.

“My goal all year was to start winning more tournaments, continue throughout the year and ultimately be more rewarding at the end of the year,” Pegula said. In the 2022 recap. It came in Guadalajara, where he earned his biggest win and trophy.

Now the Australian Open has arrived.

Eurosport expert Laura Robson, a former British No. 1 and an Olympic silver medalist, told CNN Sports that Pegula is “definitely” one of the main contenders for the women’s title.

“She’s always been an incredible ball striker but she’s improved her consistency and movement a lot over the last year,” Robson said.

“She is hitting the ball better than ever and the win against Swiatek in the United Cup will give her a lot of confidence to believe she can finally make that big breakthrough at the Slam.”

“If the conditions in Melbourne are similar to Sydney, I think it suits his game. Playing really low and flat and fast is how she likes it, and what suits her to strike the ball,” Rothenberg said, but added that her success could depend on Who does she get in the draw?

“Definitely, there are many strong players. But his stability is actually his best weapon in many ways,” he added.

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