Tennis ace Alex Eala, who made history as the Philippines's first Grand Slam junior champion at the US Open, underscored the importance of letting the world know that she's proudly Filipino through language.
Eala, 17, became the talk of the town when she delivered her acceptance speech in Filipino last Sept. 10 (Sept. 11 Manila time) after defeating French Open girls champion Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic.
"Importante sa akin na alam nilang Pinoy ako," Eala told CNN Philippines Sports Desk last Sept. 14. "Maraming nagulat na nag-Tagalog ako sa speech," she added, noting that it wasn't a staged act.
"I felt the crowd, my family, and the Philippines deserved it," she said, noting that language is a huge part of one's culture.
Eala also acknowledged the presence of many Filipinos in the live audience during her match. "Nakakatuwang makita because it's an example of how patriotic Filipinos can be...I'm so grateful."
During her speech in Filipino, a tearful Eala thanked those who have been with her since day one, including her family, sponsors, and teammates.
"Buong puso ko itong ipinaglaban hindi lang para sa sarili ko," she said, "kung hindi para makatulong din ako sa kinabukasan ng Philippine tennis. So, hindi lang ito panalo ko, panalo nating lahat."
To date, Eala is the country's highest-ranked player on the Women's Tennis Association, at 288 worldwide.