Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Puig wins Puerto Rico's first Olympic gold

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Monica Puig of Puerto Rico celebrates with her country's flag after winning the gold medal match in the women's tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.


To a soundtrack of SÌ Se Puede from the stands, Monica Puig won Puerto Rico's first gold medal in any sport in Olympic history, upsetting Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the women's tennis singles final yesterday at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Yes, she can. And, yes, she did.

Puig is also the first woman representing Puerto Rico to earn a medal of any colour at an Olympics, and when she finished a tense closing game - saving six break points and converting her fourth match point - she dropped her racket and went over to collect a flag she paraded across the court.

Gigi Fernandez, who is Puerto Rican, won two Olympic women's doubles gold medals in tennis, but did so while representing the United States.

The 22-year-old Puig was born in Puerto Rico and now lives in Florida.

As a teenager at the 2013 French Open, Puig became the first woman representing Puerto Rico to reach the third round at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, which began in 1968. A month later, she followed that up by getting to the fourth round at Wimbledon, portending great things, but she hasn't been that far again at any major.

Also notable about Puig: She is the first unseeded woman to win the singles title since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988. Ranked 34th, she added her surprising win over the second-seeded Kerber - the Australian Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up this year - to those she picked up in Brazil against two other past major title winners, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova. Kvitova earned the bronze for the Czech Republic by beating Madison Keys of the United States 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.