In touching speech, Fernandez pays homage to New York's resilience on 9/11

Watch as Leylah Fernandez salutes the crowd at the US Open for having her back and being strong over the last 20 years since 9/11 before lifting the runner-up trophy.

After a run to the US Open final that was shaped by downing giants, it was in defeat where Leylah Fernandez stood tallest.

Standing at centre court, mere moments after losing to Emma Raducanu in the women's singles championship, the teenager from Montreal found the words to not just meet the moment, but transcend it.

"I know on this day it's especially hard for New York and everyone around the United States. I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been the last 20 years," Fernandez said to the New York crowd. "Thank you for always having my back. Thank you for cheering for me. I love you, New York."

Saturday marked the 20-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Planes hijacked by Al-Qaida operatives struck the World Trade Center in New York City, bringing the twin towers down and claiming the lives of 2,753 people at Ground Zero that day. Twenty-four Canadians were among the victims.

Another hijacked plane struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania.

Fernandez's journey to the US Open final, which is played at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, captivated the hearts and imaginations of not just Canadians or New Yorkers, but sports fans around the world.

From beginning to end, she fought, overcoming some of tennis' best in the process.

Fernandez won her first two matches against Ana Konjuh and Kaia Kanepi, both of whom were past quarterfinalists. In the third round, she knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka. Round 4's challenge was ousting Angelique Kerber, the 2016 US Open champion, in three sets.

In the quarterfinals, Fernandez beat the fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina and in the semifinals defeated the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, booking her ticket to Saturday's final.

"It's incredible," Fernandez said of her unexpected run to the final during the post-match on-court interview. "I want to be back here next year, only with the right trophy."

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