Monica Puig Wins Puerto Rico Its First Gold Medal In Rio

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All-time greats Steffi Graf, Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Serena Williams have all won gold in singles. The closest thing to an upset came in 2008 when Elena Dementieva defeated Serena Williams in the quarterfinals and went on to win the tournament. And that can’t exactly be considered a shocker: Dementieva was a two-time major finalist and the fifth seed.

This year, however, was different. Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig came into the Olympics ranked 34th in the world. Little was expected of her. The 22-year-old has never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam event. At the three major tournaments contested so far in 2016, she went out in the third round in Melbourne and Paris and the first round at Wimbledon. She was, needless to say, unseeded in Rio.

 

And yet at the end of the week there she was with a gold medal around her neck and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeting out his congratulations.

This astonishing result was not an accident born of a weak field. Men’s singles at the Olympics has occasionally suffered from missing top players over the years, but the best women always dutifully show up.

Puig bested reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the semifinals. In the gold-medal match, she out-gutted reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in three bruising sets.

The win gave Puerto Rico its first-ever gold medal. The small U.S. territory, which has been sending its own team to the Olympics since 1948, immediately launched into a joyous celebration that is still going.

After the match, Kerber pointed out that she didn’t choke away the match to Puig. “I didn’t lose,” the German said. “She beat me. She played close to perfection, made very few mistakes. She was everywhere. It was impressive.”

Puig, meanwhile, couldn’t quite believe what she had just accomplished. Nothing she had done before had prepared her for this.

“It’s amazing, I’m so proud to be part of history,” she said. “It hasn’t hit me just yet.”

 

Read more Here on Monica Puig’s journey to winning the gold medal in Rio!

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