The world of tennis was turned upside down yesterday when newcomer Harmony Tan, ranked No. 115 in the world, unexpectedly beat legend Serena Williams in the first round of Wimbledon.
Tan, 24, seemed the unlikeliest of victors against the seven-time Wimbledon champion, who is widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time. Yesterday was Tan’s first time at Wimbledon while it was Williams’ 21st time back, although it was the 40-year-old’s first time being back on court since suffering a hamstring injury during the opening round of Wimbledon in 2021.
In the previous 20 times Williams played, she reached the championship match 11 times and won seven.
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After three hours and 11 minutes, Tan beat Williams in a final set tiebreaker.
Tan, a Paris native with Cambodian and Vietnamese parents, turned professional when she was just 14 years old.
Tan not only watched Williams play growing up, but her coach, Nathalie Tauziat, had previously faced Williams three times, perhaps giving her a slight advantage in knowing her opponent.
During her on-court interview after the win, a sweaty and smiling Tan admitted to being “really scared” after hearing she would be facing Williams in the first round.
“I thought if I could win one or two games it was really good for me.”
On her victory, she stated, “I’m really surprised today,” drawing laughter from the crowd. “It is my first Wimbledon…just wow.”
In a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the match, Williams had been asked if she was disappointed at not drawing a more challenging opponent.
“Every match is hard; every match,” Williams had said. “You can’t underestimate anyone or any match.”
Tan is scheduled to face Spanish player Sara Sorribes Tormo tomorrow, whom she lost to earlier this year in Monterrey, Mexico, with a final score of 6-2, 6-2.