Leylah Fernandez, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Coco Gauff pose for photographs after an exhibition match during the 2023 Atlanta Open on Sunday, July 23, 2023. (Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

The Atlanta Open got underway in earnest Sunday night with a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) exhibition match between two highly regarded players, Leylah Fernandez and Coco Gauff. Both women are currently ranked in the top 100. Even though Gauff won the match 6-3, 6-3, Coco had fun while playing in front of her hometown fans at Atlantic Station. 

“I feel it’s great,” exclaimed Gauff. “I mean, the support that we got today was insane. “They’ve made me the person who I am 100%. Moving from Atlanta to South Florida was a big change, but I love the culture here in the city. Being a Black woman in tennis and having the support from all the people in Atlanta means a lot to me truly.”

Fernandez, is a 20-year-old left-handed player from Montreal, Quebec and she is currently 86th in the world in singles and ranked 21st in doubles. Meanwhile, Gauff is currently ranked 7th in the world in singles and 4th in the world in doubles.

“Today’s match was a fun one,” said Fernandez. “As an exhibition, I had a lot of fun playing Coco and especially in front of an amazing crowd. here’s some fun moments. There’s some definitely good points. And I think there were some shots that we tried but I think it was a good atmosphere altogether.”

As the tournament got underway in earnest on Monday, fans left Atlantic Station happy to see some entertaining women’s tennis. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens supported Fernandez and Gauff during the exhibition match.

Coco Gauff speaks to reporters after an exhibition match during the 2023 Atlanta Open on Sunday, July 23, 2023. (Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

“Yeah, it was really cool,” said Gauff of Mayor Dickens’s attendance. “I didn’t know he was gonna be in attendance tonight. I did a little event for Brownwood Park. We’re renovating that park. And we received his support doing that. So I’m just happy that he was able to show up today and especially supporting women’s tennis and women’s sports.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta native Chris Eubanks will be playing in this year’s Atlanta Open. The former two-time Georgia Tech All-American and Westlake High School alum, is currently ranked 31st on the ATP Tour after his stellar run at Wimbledon. He lost in the quarterfinals to No. 3 Daniil Medvedev. Eubanks will take the court at 7pm Tuesday evening.

University of Georgia redshirt freshman Ethan Quinn received a wild card invitation into the Main Draw. In May, Quinn became the fourth Georgia Bulldog to win a National Championship in singles, joining Mikael Pernfors (1984, 1985) and Matias Boeker (2001, 2002).

The overall draw is star-studded as Taylor Fritz, Alex de Minaur, Alexander Bublik, Yoshihito Nishioka, Daniel Evans, Ugo Humbert, Adrian Mannarino, J.J. Wolf, Kei Nishikori and Gael Monfils will feature this week here in Atlanta. 

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...