Australian Open 2023 | Jessica Pegula billionaire family, Buffalo Bills, world No.3, Victoria Azarenka clash
American world No.3 Jessica Pegula has got it all.
On top of a lot of talent with a tennis racquet, Pegula is the daughter of a billionaire who owns the Buffalo Bills NFL team.
Her story is very different to most of her peers. While tennis has developed a reputation for offering a golden ticket out of poverty for many of its biggest names, Pegula has drawn on completely different motivating factors to drive her up towards the top of the tree.
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“We all have different drivers,” Nine commentator Sam Smith told Wide World of Sports’ The Morning Serve.
”You’ve got to understand she’s from a very high achieving family. Her sister went to a Division 1 university and played tennis. Her mother [Kim] runs a record label (Black River Entertainment), runs an ice hockey team (NHL’s Buffalo Sabres), you’re expected to do well if you’re a Pegula.
“But also, the money didn’t really come in – I mean her father’s a self-made billionaire – until late in her teens and tennis is her thing.
“She’s gone from being Terry Pegula’s daughter, to now he is Jessica Pegula’s dad. When you’re in such a successful family you’ve got to find your little niche, don’t you?
” … She sets very high standards for herself, and she is defining herself as a separate person to the family of the Buffalo Bills.”
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Now 28, Pegula has the chance to completely step out of her parents’ considerable shadow by lifting a grand slam trophy on Saturday.
Having grinded her way up the rankings over the last 10 years, Pegula finally landed inside the top 20 in 2021, before a career-best season shot her out of a cannon to No.3 in the world by the end of last year.
All of her best grand slam results came in 2022, with quarter-final appearances at the Australian Open (equal best), the French Open and the US Open to go with a third round exit at Wimbledon.
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Throw in her first ever WTA 1000 win at the Guadalajara Open and a string of other outstanding results at that level and Pegula all of a sudden has the CV to believe that she belongs among the world’s elite.
The American plays two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in Tuesday night’s quarter-final – with the Belarusian star one of two grand slam champions remaining in the top half of the draw. The other is 23-year-old Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina who defeated Jeļena Ostapenko in Tuesday’s other quarter-final.
Yet, despite her lack of experience in grand slam semi finals and finals, Pegula has started to look “ready” to join the ranks of major winners on the WTA Tour.
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“She obviously likes playing in Australia, this is the third time she’s made the quarter finals,” Smith said. “You’ve always got to win one the first time and people are saying ‘the women’s draw is wide open’, well the top half has got a reigning Wimbledon champion, you’ve got Azarenka who was for a while the best player in the world, has twice won the Australian Open, you know, you’ve got lots of top top players.
“I don’t know, I think there’s a sense she’s never played the semis of a grand slam, so she’s got to break new ground, and I guess we will find out. Is she capable of winning? I believe she is. On current form, absolutely.”
Smith is tipping Pegula to beat Azarenka, which would pit her in a mouth-watering semi-final match-up against Rybakina, just one match away from her first grand slam champion.
And with the Bills having just been knocked out of the NFL playoffs, that progression would leave no one uncertain about the biggest name in Buffalo. The tennis playing Pegula, rather than her billionaire dad.
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