Kenin’s breakthrough came in 2020 when she clinched the Australian Open title and followed it up with a runner-up finish at Roland Garros, propelling her to a career-high ranking of number four in the world. Unfortunately, a series of setbacks, including injuries, a battle with COVID-19, a string of early-round defeats, and a temporary split with her father-coach Alex, caused her ranking to plummet to 235.
However, Kenin has displayed signs of a turnaround and has revitalized her career at the prestigious All England Club. She made a strong statement in the opening round by defeating seventh seed Coco Gauff and continued her winning streak by dispatching Wang Xinyu in straight sets on Thursday.
“Obviously I’m super excited, just trying to prove some people wrong. Just super proud of myself with the way I really fought through to get here and keeping the momentum going,” she said after booking a third round match with Elina Svitolina.
“I’m just putting in the hard work and it’s paying off… I didn’t have the best results but I felt like this year I started off pretty good overall and I just had to find my way.
“I’ve been fighting it, just hope that I can keep it going.”
Kenin said the turning point was a close match with reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina at Indian Wells earlier this year, where the American narrowly defeated 7-6(6) 7-6(5).
“It was a great match. Of course, a little bit heartbreaking because I lost. But she got to the final of the (2023) Australian Open so I wanted to just see where I am at that point,” Kenin said.
“I did a great job, I just got some confidence off that match. I believed I always could do it.”
Grass is not her favourite surface but Kenin, 24, said the qualifiers helped her come to terms with it.
“If I know every time I’m going to get to the third round at a slam I’ll play qualies (qualifiers),” she said with a smile.
“I felt like I had some really good solid wins in qualies even though they were against tough opponents. I handled my nerves, everything well. Looks obviously easy but it was tough and I feel like those matches definitely gave me confidence.”
(With inputs from Reuters)