Harmony Tan: World No. 115 who defeated Serena Williams is keeping her Wimbledon dream alive – SportsMediaz

Harmony Tan’s 2022 season was exceptionally ordinary until last month. She had been on the outside of the top 100 of the WTA rankings looking, played a handful of tour-level main draws, and had not made the quarterfinal of a single event she played. And then, after receiving one of the unluckiest draws of the year, she has made the second week of a Major for the first time in her career.

Tan’s name was a part of headlines all over the world after she was drawn against Serena Williams in the first round at Wimbledon this year. Williams returned to Wimbledon after an injury-ridden goodbye last year, with speculation active that this may be her last appearance at SW19. When Tan found out she was playing the 23-time Grand Slam winner, she was hoping to win a few games.

“When I saw the draw, I was really scared, because it’s Serena Williams; she’s a legend. I was like, ‘Oh my God, how can I play?’ and if I can win one game or two games, it was really good for me,” she said after the match.

Williams’ farewell was not as short-lived as last year’s, but the outcome was the same. Over three hours of tennis saw Tan edge an epic, and give her the chance to do better than she ever had before at the grass Major. What followed were solid and dominant straight-sets wins over 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, and big home favourite Katie Boulter to ensure her status as one of the bigger underdog stories in the women’s draw this year.

Life outside tennis

Born in Paris with Vietnamese and Cambodian heritage, Tan’s exploits outside of the court have been adventurous and unique. For a player who started training to play tennis at an elite level from a young age, she has developed an inherent interest in surfing, and is even an esteemed classical pianist. The Frenchwoman spent eight full years training for the instrument at the Conservatoire in Paris, an elite music and dance academy.

Her priority has always been tennis though. She picked up the racquet more as a hobby and less as a passion. Her mother recounted an accident that took place in an interview with L’Equipe, which saw Tan fall from the second floor as a child. After her safety was confirmed, the first thing she asked her mother is whether she will be able to play tennis again.

Since then, the 24-year-old has been on course to make it pro. She never played through the French federation, taking the private academy route instead. She did not play on the juniors due to financial constraints, instead playing senior ITF tournaments from the age of 14.

After finding time to complete her bachelor’s degree, she has become a mainstay on the ITF and WTA Tour over the past few years. After making her top 200 debut last year, she is now the World No. 115, unluckily getting no ranking privileges despite her Wimbledon run.

One to watch

Perhaps expectedly, Tan’s game style suits the grass courts well. Her commitment to mixing things up and using variation – be it through flat winners or slices – in her groundstrokes kept Williams guessing in their first round. The result is that she simply does not allow her opponents to create rhythm from the baseline.

Against Sorribes Tormo, her game looked impressive and mature, but against Boulter, she looked unstoppable. Fighting a high-flying player as well as the partisan British crowd to brandish a 6-1, 6-1 thumping score line in just 51 minutes.

She takes on the promising American Amanda Anisimova next, with a potential quarterfinal against fourth seed Paula Badosa or 2019 champion Simona Halep looming, all of whom would be wary of the challenge.

The girl with Vietnamese and Cambodian origins, the piano player who fell from the second floor to pop out a question about her tennis future is now playing her tune at the most classical sporting venue of them all.

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