Sofia KeninAmerican Tennis Player
Sofia Kenin is a Russian-born American tennis player. She won her first WTA Tour title at the Hobart International in January 2019.
• Date of Birth: 14 November 1998
• Age: 23 years old
• Place of Birth: Moscow, Russia
• Residence: Florida, USA
• Country (sports): USA
• Height: 170cm / 5ft 7ins
• Plays: Right-handed
• Turned Pro: 2017
• Career Prize Money: US$ 7,906,435
Born in Moscow, Russia in November 1998, Kenin moved to the United States – initially to New York and then Florida – with her family a few months after she was born.
She began playing tennis when she was around five years old and enjoyed a strong junior career, making it up to number two in the junior world rankings.
Kenin reached the final of the junior US Open in 2015 after having also made her grand slam main draw debut as a wildcard in the same year.
She won her first WTA title at the Hobart International in January 2019 and claimed her first grand slam title at the Australian Open in 2020, also reaching the final of the French Open in the same year.
So, what do we know about Sofia’s journey to becoming the talented tennis player that she is today? This is her story.
Early Life, Parents And Upbringing
Sofia Kenin (full name: Sofia Anna Kenin) was born on 14 November 1998 in Moscow, Russia, to parents Alexander and Svetlana Kenin. She has a younger sister.
Kenin’s family moved to the United States when she was just a few months old. Initially, they moved to New York when Sofia was a baby, before then settling in Florida. She now resides in Pembroke Pines, Florida, where she was home-schooled.
Despite her parents not having played the sport previously, Kenin began playing tennis when she was around five years old and immediately showed promise as a youngster.
“My parents say I was playing with balls as a baby, and I didn’t like Barbies,” Kenin said in an interview in 2015. “I went on court and everyone saw I was different.”
Kenin’s parents recognised that their daughter had a natural talent for the game, and they arranged for her to begin training with Rick Macci in Broward County, Florida. Macci coached Kenin until she was 12.
Reflecting on his first impressions of Kenin, Macci said: “Back then [when Kenin was five], I came right out and said Sofia was the scariest little creature I’d ever seen. It was unique – the hand-eye coordination and her ability to take the ball immediately right after the bounce.
“I have a lot of kids do that, but it was almost like it was baked in already, even though she was little and the racket was actually bigger than her. The only player I’ve seen like that is Martina Hingis.”
Kenin’s childhood tennis idols were Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
Kenin was a strong junior player and she achieved a career-high junior ranking of number two in the world in November 2015.
In total, she won three ITF junior titles, in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2015, she reached the final of the US Open girls’ singles tournament in New York, losing to Hungary’s Dalma Galfi in straight sets in the final.
Early Career And First Title
Although she competed in the girls’ singles event at the 2015 US Open, Kenin was also handed a wildcard into the main draw at Flushing Meadows in the same year.
Aged 16 years old, Kenin took on world number 98 Mariana Duque-Marino in the first round at the US open and lost 6-3, 6-1 on what was her grand slam main draw debut.
“I was having fun out there with fans cheering me on,” Kenin said afterwards. “It was such an amazing experience. It’s unfortunate to have lost, but I’ve worked really hard and I knew it was going to be tough.”
Kenin mainly played on the ITF circuit in the months that followed and was again handed a wildcard into the main draw of the 2016 US Open, where she lost to Karolina Pliskova.
At the 2017 US Open, she won her first career grand slam singles match, after having once again been handed a wildcard into the main draw. She beat fellow American Lauren Davis in the first round before also overcoming Sachia Vickery to make it to the third round of a grand slam for the first time in her career. In the third round, she lost to former world number one Maria Sharapova in straight sets.
Her run at the 2017 US Open helped her to make the decision to turn professional in September 2017 and she began to slowly climb the WTA rankings.
After having made steady progress and breaking into the top 50 in 2018, Kenin won her first WTA Tour singles title in January 2019 at the Hobart International, beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the final, 6-3, 6-0.
Reflecting on claiming her first ever WTA singles title, Kenin said at the time: “I’m so happy to have gotten this title. It was my first year [here] and I’m looking forward to coming back here for many more years to come. I didn’t want to overthink it and I’m happy with the way I composed myself during the match. It might have looked easy, but every game was close and I knew I had to play well.”
At the 2019 French Open, Kenin reached the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time in her career, losing to Ashleigh Barty in round four.
Kenin then won her second career WTA singles title at the Mallorca Open in June 2019. She beat Belinda Bencic in the final 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4, saving three championship points to complete an impressive turnaround.
“Hard work, for sure, is paying off big-time,” Kenin said afterwards. “I’m playing really well, fighting for every point and taking as much advantage as I can. This really is great, and I’m just so happy with how I’m playing.”
She then claimed her third WTA singles title at the Guangzhou International Women’s Open in September 2019, beating Samantha Stosur, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, in the final.
First Grand Slam Title
Kenin continued to make impressive progress on the WTA Tour and started 2020 in the best possible way at the first grand slam of the year.
Aged 21, she captured her first career grand slam title at the 2020 Australian Open, beating the likes of Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, and Ash Barty to reach the final. In the final, she came from a set down to defeat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“This is such an honor,” Kenin said afterwards. “I’m so proud of myself, my dad, my team, everyone that has been around me. We’ve all worked hard. We’ve been through tough times. We did it. We fought. I’m just on cloud nine.”
Kenin followed up that triumph by reaching her second grand slam final of the year, this time in the autumn of 2020 at the French Open. After beating the likes of Danielle Collins and Petra Kvitova to reach the final, she lost to Poland’s Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-1.
Earnings And Prize Money
As of August 2022, Sofia Kenin had earned a total of $7,906,435 in career prize money from tennis, combined for both singles and doubles.
Life Away From The Court
Away from tennis, Kenin enjoys rap music, and especially Drake.
Her favourite treat food is frozen yogurt – cookies and cream with Hershey’s on top.
What Have Others Said?
Garbine Muguruza, speaking after losing to Kenin in the 2020 Australian Open final: “I’m not very happy about my performance. I think I had to play better today because she came up with a great level. I think at the important moments I didn’t find my shots. I think she found her shots. I did feel a little bit of lack of energy after so many matches. Physically, it was a tough battle out there, so it’s just a tough moment. I think the way she handled the break points and the game points, these kind of moments, I think she came out doing winners, which is a tough moment. I think she played very well. I think it’s her first Grand Slam final for her and she performed really well.”
Sam Stosur, speaking after losing to Kenin in the 2019 Guangzhou International Women’s Open final: “I feel proud of myself. It was a tough match today. She played very, very well for the whole match, and really picked it up in that second and third sets.”