Billionaire tennis star Jessica Pegula says she has been given a message that fans don’t like cheering for her.
The American has enjoyed the best 12 months of her career and has climbed up to sit at No. 3 on the WTA Rankings.
Her on-court success has come with greater prize money, but it is the piggy bank she already holds that continues to turn some fans away.
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Pegula made headlines at the 2021 Aussie Open when she reached a grand slam quarter-final for the first time, triggering profile pieces which reminded the world Pegula is stonkingly rich.
The 27-year-old’s parents are Terry and Kim Pegula, who have owned both the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres sports franchises since 2014, and have a net worth of more than $5 billion, according to Forbes.
Despite her rise through the rankings coming a full 11 years after she first played a grand slam.
Her hard-fought battle clearly hasn’t struck a chord with some fans who appear to be overlooking her gritty career rise and focusing on the extra zeros on her bank balance.
Pegula told Eurosport this week there is a misconception that she hasn’t earned her spot at the pointy end of the WTA Rankings.
“There are so many stories of people coming up and having to earn their way.
“I think I know, and other people know, in the tennis world that, of course, you can’t be successful without working really hard and putting in the work and the hours,” Pegula told Eurosport.
“But I think also to that kind of extent there’s so many people that don’t know about tennis that are kind of like, ‘Oh, she probably had everything given to her, she probably had the best coaches and the best stuff’.
“I definitely know from personal experience, just because you can afford so-called the best coach in the world, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work.
“I think that is a misconception, not just in tennis, but maybe sports, that it doesn’t matter who it is, sometimes it’s the fit, or the personality fit, the way you handle your career as tennis it’s just so different.
“So I think sometimes I definitely get the feeling that people don’t want to root for me because it’s not more of like the fairytale, Cinderella story, which is fine, and I’m okay with that.
“But I think at the same time, everyone that I know in the tennis world and all the players and all the team, definitely see that I put in the work. I think having that respect amongst my peers is more important because I know what they see and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else doesn’t see.
“Because it’s all the work I put in that people don’t see. And I think it was really nice for Maria Sakkari to say like, ‘You’re very humble and hardworking, you totally deserve it’. I thought that was really sweet and really genuine for her to say something like that because it was just kind of solidifying what I already knew and the work that I put in and trying to be respectful to everyone.”
Terry Pegula is reported to have made his fortune as a mining magnate before selling off the majority of his natural resources company.
The family famously outplayed Donald Trump as they tussled to take over the Bills before the American President slagged off the team when his bid wasn’t accepted.
The team was purchased for $1.4 billion seven years ago and is now estimated to be worth $2 billion.
Pegula is skipping the season-ending Billie Jean King Cup after failing to win a match at the WTA Tour Finals.