WATCH: Martina Navratilova checks into the TC Live Desk as the 2023 Australian Open gets underway.


Jessica Pegula paid tribute to a recovering Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills to kick off her 2023 Australian Open campaign, emerging with a patch with the No. 3 in honor of Hamlin, who is currently recovering after going into cardiac arrest during a Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this month.

Following her emphatic 6-0, 6-1 victory over Jacqueline Cristian, Pegula signed the camera with another message to Hamlin and the Bills, an NFL team co-owned by parents Terry and Kim.

The No. 3 seed sent a powerful message of hope in the wake of Hamlin’s traumatic injury on January 2, and managed to follow along with Sunday’s victory over the Miami Dolphins from Melbourne.

“I woke up around 7:00 and got to basically watch most of the second half, except when I was like driving here,” she said after the match. “And then the game finished before I started my warmup, so I was out there watching. There wasn't really many people out here yet, but I was here watching.


“It was a tough game,” she added of the Bills’ 34-31 win. “Not the prettiest of wins, definitely an ugly win, I think. But same thing, it's like first game, playoffs, everyone is kind of nervous, a lot of tension. My coach is a big Jaguars fan so he had a crazy game yesterday, biggest comeback in playoff history or something and he was going crazy.

“It was fun obviously for them to get that win before I went on court. It wouldn't have really affected me, I don't think, but I would have just been annoyed that they lost.

“We have a family group chat and they'll send updates and stuff like that. But I think everyone was like, ‘Whew, got through that one,’ because they were struggling there for a bit.”

Pegula put on a far prettier performance to kick off her Australian Open campaign; can the American channel the Bills’ scrappy energy through some of the fortnight’s tougher moments as she bids for a first Grand Slam title?