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US Open star Leylah Fernandez wore a Met Gala dress inspired by tennis royalty

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Leylah Fernandez at the Met Gala.

Leylah Fernandez attends the 2021 Met Gala. Evan Agostini / Invision / AP

  • US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez made her first Met Gala appearance on Monday.

  • The 19-year-old tennis star wore a black and white Carolina Herrera dress inspired by tennis icons.

  • Venus and Serena Williams wore similar designer dresses for a 1998 Vogue photoshoot.

  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

Just days after knocking out several tennis superstars from the sport’s biggest stage, rising tennis star Leylah Fernandez is emulating other tennis legends away from the court.

The 19-year-old Canadian prodigy – who had a stunning run to the 2021 US Open final earlier this month – made her very first Met Gala appearance in a black and white Carolina Herrera gown. While Fernandez’s outfit might seem simple compared to the ornate outfits many others donned at the star-studded event, the young athlete’s dress was a meaningful tribute to two of her sport’s greatest athletes – Venus and Serena Williams.

serena venus williams

A young Venus (left) and Serena Williams. Photo AP / Rick Stevens

In 1998, when tennis’s most famous sisters were around Fernandez’s current age, iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz photographed Venus and Serena for Vogue. The aspiring stars of the day – who had yet to win a Grand Slam at the time but were rising quickly through the ranks of tennis – posed in black and white striped dresses of none other than Carolina Herrera.

Fernandez’s decision to emulate Venus and Serena in her own striped Carolina Herrera dress was surely intentional. Some 23 years after the Williams sisters filmed with Leibovitz, they are true tennis royalty with 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

Fernandez finds himself in a position similar to that of Venus and Serena since the filming of Vogue. She just completed her very first Grand Slam final appearance at this year’s US Open and perhaps herself is on the verge of tennis greatness, just as the Williams sisters were in 1998.

Perhaps the black and white dress is the last piece of the puzzle before Fernandez breaks through for his first Grand Slam victory. After all, less than two years after wearing these dresses, Venus and Serena have won the first of many major titles.

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