USTA.com Exclusive Interview:
Jennifer Brady, 2021 AO finalist
Arthur Kapetanakis | February 23, 2021
Jennifer Brady backed up her breakout run to the 2020 US Open semifinals with a runner-up finish at the 2021 Australian Open, cementing her place at the top of the women's game. Her new career-high ranking of world No. 13 would be even higher if not for the revised WTA ranking system, put in place due to COVID-19.
The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native and Orlando, Florida, resident is now the No. 3-ranked American woman, behind world No. 4 Sofia Kenin and No. 7 Serena Williams.
The 25-year-old former UCLA Bruin spoke with USTA.com from her hotel room in Melbourne, the day after her championship match against Naomi Osaka.
Q. Now that you've had a night to sleep on it, how do you reflect on what you've just accomplished, getting to your first Grand Slam final?
Jennifer Brady: I'm super thrilled and excited to make my first Grand Slam final. ADVERTISEMENT I think it just solidifies the hard work that I've been putting in and shows the fact that I belong at this level. My semifinal run at the US Open wasn't out of the blue. It happened for a reason and just a few months later, I'm making the finals of another Grand Slam, making the second week. It just shows the hard work I've been putting in and improving day in and day out.
Q. Are those balloons I see behind you? Did you have a little party last night?
Jennifer Brady: Yeah, Tennis Australia set up something, there was a cake in here when I arrived, some champagne, balloons. It was really nice.
Q. Did you rest easy last night? When you put your head on your pillow, were you tossing and turning? How were those moments as you reflected?
Jennifer Brady: Oh yeah, the adrenaline was high. I didn't fall asleep until like 6:30 in the morning, and that wasn't because I was out clubbing. I was just lying in bed for a lot of hours, on social media, responding to everyone's messages. I got a couple of hours of sleep.
Q. I saw one of your posts and I thought it was about 6 a.m. over there. I was wondering if that was you or maybe an automated post, something from your agent maybe.
Jennifer Brady: Oh no, that was me.
Q: I saw that Jessica Pegula was in your player box for the final. Did you two speak much about your quarterfinal match afterwards? Can you share anything about that?
Jennifer Brady: We spoke before and after the match. We were actually in the locker room, 10 minutes before we went on court, we were chatting like we weren't even going to play each other. We were shooting the breeze with each other, doing some smack talk.
After, we sent each other some really nice messages, which was really nice from her. We had a nice embrace at the net, just saying how proud we are of each other and hopefully we'll have more battles in the future.
Q. What did it mean to have her in your player box for the final?
Jennifer Brady: It means a lot to me to have the support of a friend and also a fellow competitor. Just having Jess there, and also another friend and player, Desirae Krawczyk. Two of my really good friends, having them supporting me, cheering me on, it's really awesome to see. It just shows that we aren't all out for blood. We can also still be friends off the court, even if we're competitors on the court.
Q: With about 7,000 fans in Rod Laver Arena, how does that feel to you on the court? Does it feel like it's full?
Jennifer Brady: Oh, it felt full to me, definitely. Maybe if it was Arthur Ashe with 7,000 people, maybe it wouldn't. But it definitely felt full.
Q. Do you feel like you've gotten more fans over the course of the last few months, with the US Open semifinal and now this run in Australia? You had a couple of viral press conference moments, especially with your reaction to hearing that Hsieh Su-Wei was posting about you.
Jennifer Brady: Definitely, I've gotten a lot of support, a lot of positive messages. My Instagram followers are revving up. Having the support, even just people back home, it's been truly amazing and hopefully I can continue to do well in tournaments, which I think is definitely possible, and continue to grow my fan base.
Q. Switching gears a bit... we have the Olympics, hopefully, coming up this summer. You're now the No. 3 American, which would get you in—the Top 4 Americans will likely qualify. Have you ventured a thought to playing for Team USA at the Olympics?
Jennifer Brady: Oh, hell yeah, definitely. That would be a huge honor. For me, even playing Fed Cup, playing for my country, playing for America, is huge. I'm proud to be an American, I love America so much. When I hear the national anthem it brings tears to my eyes.
Just playing for the United States would be a huge honor for me, playing in the Olympics. A couple of years ago, I didn't even think it was possible. But now, knowing that I'm the No. 3 American, it's totally achievable, and I would be truly blessed to play for America.
Q. If it was the normal 12-month rankings, you might even be the No. 1 American at this point. What would it mean to you to be the No. 1 American woman?
Jennifer Brady: That would mean a lot to me. That's not something that I'm striving for specifically, but American women's tennis is so competitive; we have so many players in the Top 100, Top 50, even Top 30. Just to be the No. 1-ranked American would be a huge achievement, just solidifying my success over my career.
I don't think I'll be able to achieve what Serena Williams or Venus Williams have, but to even be in the same category as them would be amazing.
Q. Having gone through the system as a junior to where you are now, how do you explain that? Why there are so many American women at the top of the game? The men are getting there, but the amount of American women, like you said, in the Top 50, Top 100, is pretty incredible.
Jennifer Brady: I think we just push each other a little but more maybe. Even last year, seeing Sonya Kenin winning the Australian Open and you're like, 'Wow, that's awesome, that's great for her.. If she can do it, what's stopping me from doing it.'
Just seeing others do well, it just realy fuels each other. We also support each other. I'm proud of other Americans when they do well. I'm super happy for them. We don't really have a jealous mentality. I think we're truly happy for each other when we see success, and it also drives us to want to see more.
Q: Finally, I know you've been in Australia for a while now, about a month. What do you miss about being home in the U.S.?
Jennifer Brady: I don't know, I would say everything. What's not to love about being home? Just the comfort of waking up in your own home, sleeping in your own bed. The quietness, no disturbances from people in the hallway at 3 a.m. Just little things like that. Going grocery shopping, cooking at home.