J. Pegula Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

The next stop on her meteoric rise to the top of her sport over the past seven months is Tokyo, where she will compete as one of six American women’s tennis players in the Olympics.

She hopes to meet a fellow Western New Yorker, or at least a fellow Bills or Sabres fan, despite the fact that the number of spectators at the Olympics will be severely limited due to Japan’s Covid-19 restrictions and protocols limiting the athletes to the Olympic Village and training and competition venues. This Friday will be the beginning of the festivities.

J. Pegula Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

One way in which J. Pegula tennis career has intersected with the Bills’ fanaticism: The Italian Bills Backers Club has roughly 40 active members.

One of the group went to Paris for the French Open so he could watch J. Pegula play, and his first stop at Roland Garros was on Court 11, an outside court.

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What You Want to Know?

J. Pegula Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

In May, with time running out to qualify for the U.S. Olympic squad, J. Pegula and her coaches began paying greater attention to the WTA rankings. J. Pegula noticed that Gauff was on a roll after he won the Emilia-Romagna Open in Italy that past May, thinking that this would strengthen his case for inclusion on the Olympic team.

Olympic squad members are chosen based on player availability and international standings. Leading American women’s tennis players at the time, Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams, both passed on Olympic berths.

All of the eligible players were informed well in advance of the selection date that they would be required to fly to Japan without any support system (including coaches, personal trainers, or family members).

According to J. Pegula, “I knew that was going to be a huge factor, particularly for Serena.” She enjoys spending time with her kid and family, so it seems sense that she would want to bring them along on this trip.

J. Pegula was in Berlin, Germany, when she received a call from Olympic women’s tennis coach Kathy Rinaldi informing her that she would be part of the United States squad in Tokyo. No decisions about the Olympic contingent were made until after the French Open.

As J. Pegula put it, “the buildup was really tense,” adding, “I’m fairly low key, but it was definitely something that was really great, something that was building up the last few weeks, too, just with trying to figure out who would get that position, not knowing if Serena was going to say yes or no.” You won’t know unless you get the call.

Things like finding out you made the team in the last minute don’t happen in tennis. This occurs infrequently. It was unique, and I’ll never forget it.

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Last Words

J. Pegula admitted that women’s tennis is a single sport on the WTA tour. Comparing the Olympic opportunity to the team tournament formerly known as the Fed Cup, she saw parallels between the two.

J. Pegula experienced team spirit when competing for the United States in San Antonio in 2019. This may have included some uncomfortable teasing.


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