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Pegula, whose family owns Bills, honors Hamlin in Australia

MELBOURNE – professional tennis player Jessica Pegula It has Safety Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin on her mind – and his number on T-shirt number 3 on her clothes – in Australian Open.

Pegula whose parents own NFL accounts and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabers wear a white patch with Hamlin’s uniform number on her black skirt when she competes in the first Grand Slam of the year.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field when he collapsed after a tackle during a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2. He spent more than a week in the hospital, part of that time in critical condition. before he can return home.

“I definitely wanted to do something,” Pegula said on Wednesday after reaching the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Alexandra Sasnovich.

“We were sort of figuring out what the Bills and Sabers were doing, how much of a message it was. I knew they were likely to do something and what message they were trying to send. In the end it turned out that the number 3 was a symbol,” said Pegula, a 28-year-old girl who was born in New York and now lives in Florida.

“I just thought it would be cool to wear my outfit here. I thought it would be a fun way to connect with the team and then just show my support,” she said. “I felt like it was such a global event.”

Pegula has reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in each of the past two years, equaling her best performance at any Grand Slam tournament.

She is currently ranked 3rd in the rankings, a coincidence that sparked some reactions that Pegula found amusing.

“I saw someone tweet ‘why would you put your rating on a skirt?’ I’m like, “No, that’s not why,” Pegula said with a laugh.

She said she watched the Bills’ wildcard win over the Miami Dolphins on TV before playing her first game in Melbourne. Buffalo’s next playoff game is Sunday against the visiting Bengals.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.



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