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A disbelieving Harmony Tan: ‘I played the ball – not my opponent’

The 24-year-old still couldn’t quite believe the magnitude of her achievement on the second day of her first Wimbledon main draw

Harmony Tan Wimbledon 2022 France’s Harmony Tan celebrates winning her first round match against Serena Williams of the U.S. (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Harmony Tan secured the biggest win of her career on the biggest stage of all – defeating Serena Williams on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

The funny thing is that when she started the match, she still didn’t quite believe it was happening. And it was only as the match went on that the Frenchwoman thought that maybe she was going to pull off a massive upset.

“When the draw came out, everyone told me: ‘Oh, you’re playing Serena Williams!'” she told the French media. “And then I cut off all my social networks because there were so many messages…I didn’t want to pollute my head with that.

“At the beginning of the match, I didn’t really believe in it, I was playing a legend, and on centre court at Wimbledon. But as the match went on, I believed in it more and more. I started to say to myself, ‘Maybe you can do it.’ But I didn’t really believe it. But I won, and it’s the biggest win of my career. It’s just incredible.”

When asked in her post-match press conference at what point she really did believe she could win, she laughed: “Maybe at the end on the third just a little bit! Maybe at the super tiebreak, yeah, when it was 9-7 – ‘I can make it.'”

Tan: Serena is playing well – she’s an icon

Tan was well briefed in what to expect. Her coach Nathalie Tauziat was one of Serena’s adversaries at the start of her career 20 years ago. Being on court with Williams, Tan said, was “amazing” – and intimidating.

“Before I got on the court, I saw her next to me, and it’s true that she scared me a little bit, because I had never seen her in person,” she said. “Her build, her presence… She is imposing! Even at the end, when we shook hands, I thought she was someone who impressed me. But on the court, I didn’t pay attention to her. I played a ball, not an opponent.”

And she thought that opponent was showing signs of nerves at the start of the match.

“As the match went on, she felt better,” Tan added. “But she was tired at the end. Honestly, even though she hasn’t played a match for a year, she’s still playing very well. To play at 40, for a woman, is incredible! I admire her. She’s an icon of women’s tennis.”

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