Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin got a special shout-out at the Australian Open this week from American tennis pro Jessica Pegula, the daughter of Bills team owners Terry and Kim Pegula.
Pegula, the No. 3 ranked player on the WTA Tour, is competing in this year’s Grand Slam tournament with Hamlin’s No. 3 stitched on her outfit in support of the second-year safety.
Hamlin collapsed on the field during the Bills’ Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals after he went into cardiac arrest.
“I’m just trying to show some support and bridge Australia and Buffalo, New York, which is very strange, but kind of bridge the two worlds together,” she said on the court with a smile after her second-round victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich Tuesday.
“He’s recovered amazingly, so it’s been awesome to see.”
Hamlin spent a week in the intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center before doctors transferred him to western New York, where he continued to be evaluated before eventually being released.
“I just thought it would be cool to put on my outfit here. I thought it would be a fun way to kind of connect with the team and then also just show my support,” Pegula added Wednesday. “I felt like it was such a global event.”
She noted that some on social media thought the No. 3 might have represented her current ranking.
“I saw someone tweet that, ‘Why would you put your ranking on your skirt?’ I’m, like, ‘No, that’s not why,’” Pegula said with a laugh.
After her first-round victory over Jaqueline Cristian, she also wrote Hamlin’s name on a camera lens.
“Go Bills,” she wrote with Hamlin’s number.
Pegula, 28, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open, where she will take on Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk. Pegula said she watched the Bills’ win over the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round before playing her first match. Buffalo will next host the Bengals Sunday in the divisional round.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.