The wealthiest player at the Australian Open isn’t Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal it happens to be a billionaire heiress from Buffalo in New York.
On Monday afternoon at Melbourne Park, American Jessica Pegula advanced to the quarter-finals after stunning fifth seed Elina Svitolina in three sets.
And reaching the final eight in the women’s singles ensures a very handy pay day of at least $525,000 – not that Pegula needs it.
The 26-year-old is the daughter of Terry Pegula, who in 2014 outbid rival suitors including former US president Donald Trump and singer Bon Jovi to purchase NFL franchise Buffalo Bills for $1.4billion.
He also bought the Buffalo Sabres for $189million in 2011, after making his money fracking before selling the majority of his oil and gas company East Resources for more than $5billion.
Pegula, ranked 61 in the world, turned pro in 2009 and was on the verge of retiring in recent years following a succession of knee and hip injuries.
Last year she made the third round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, but her giant-killing run at the Australian Open has seen her become the talk of the tennis world.
So far Pegula, whose net worth is an estimated $4.9billion, has ousted two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, former US Open victor Sam Stosur and former world No.10 Kristina Mladenovic before Monday’s triumph against Svitolina.
Next up for Pegula is fellow American Jennifer Brady, who outclassed Donna Vekic in straight sets, 6-1 7-5.
Speaking earlier in the tournament, late bloomer Pegula admitted carving out her own identity on court against the hype surrounding her surname was a motivating factor.
‘When I was younger, it was more like I wanted to make a name for myself and then I realised as I got older, I should embrace the whole family aspect of it instead,’ Wide World of Sport reported.
‘It was almost hurting me in a way because it wasn’t going to go away and I learned to embrace that, kind of have fun with it.
‘Tennis is my thing, it’s my job, it’s my career. It’s very separate and my parents don’t really have any say right now in anything I do on the court.’
Pegula recently told ESPN her impressive run in Melbourne has been well received back home in Buffalo as well as her training base in Florida.
Safe to say the cheering will continue if Pegula can reach her maiden Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday.