Jessica Pegula, daughter of Buffalo Bills owners, showed support for Damer Hamlin during his straight sets win in the second round of the Australian Open.
World No. 3 Hamlin wore shorts during her 6-2 7-6(5) win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.
“I definitely wanted to do something,” Pegula said when asked about paying tribute to Hamlin after his win.
“We were figuring out what the Bills and Sabers were doing, just as far as what the message was. I knew what they would probably do and what message they were trying to send. It ultimately symbolized the ‘3’.
Hamlin was hospitalized in Cincinnati when his heart suddenly stopped following a tackle during a January 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Bill’s security, 24, was released after more than a week in hospital.
“I thought it would be a fun way to connect with the team and then just show my support. I thought it was a global phenomenon. A lot of people were asking me about it here too,” said Pegula, who was in Sydney at the time of Hamlin’s fall.
He said he watched the Bills’ 34-31 wild card round win over the Miami Dolphins in Melbourne — the Bills now face the Bengals in the divisional round, Hamlin’s night of Buffalo’s opponents falling apart.
Pegula also paid tribute to Hamlin after her 6-0 6-1 first-round victory over Jacqueline Christian by writing “Go Bills #3” on the camera lens.
Pegula has had a great start to the new year after ending 2022 at a career-high No. 3 in the world rankings.
He entered the Australian Open off the back of a stellar performance at the inaugural United Cup where he led Team USA to victory. In the semi-finals, he defeated world No. 1 Iga Suatec 6–2 6–2 who will face him in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
In her previous two appearances at the Australian Open, the 28-year-old had a quarter-final exit, but this year, she has upped her sights. Asked if he could win the competition, he said: “That’s the plan.”
“Every tournament you want to take it one match at a time but at the same time, you still want to get those big goals,” he said. “Obviously going as far as possible these few weeks is my main priority.”
Pegula will face wildcards Olivia Gadecki or Marta Kostyuk in the third round on Friday.