Making her first main-draw appearance at All England Club, France’s Harmony Tan stood strong against Serena Williams to advance to the second round of Wimbledon with a 7-5 1-6 7-6(7) victory in three hours and ten minutes.
The first set was very competitive. The world No.115 Tan kicked off the match with a 2-0 lead. The seven-time Wimbledon champion Williams then managed to win four straight games, but lost that advantage as Tan leveled to 4-4. A love hold by Williams followed, but Tan victoriously fought through the next three games, sealing the set with an impressive passing shot winner on her first set point.
After a love hold at the start of the second set, Williams converted her seventh break point to break Tan’s serve in a game that lasted almost 20 minutes and featured 12 deuces. The tight contest continued as Williams saved four break points to get a hard-earned 3-0 lead. That’s when Williams’ momentum started and the American pretty comfortably progressed through the rest of the set.
Mentally, the advantage was on Serena’s side as we were awaiting the third set. Physically, after almost two hours of play, Serena was tired. We could not predict the winner at that point, but we were leaning towards Serena, given her eventually dominant second set and experience that intimidates all her opponents.
The match turned into a nail-biter when Tan battled back from 1-3 to 3-3 in the third set. Was the representative of France going to be victorious on her Wimbledon main-draw debut against none other than the GOAT, on Center Court, or was the legendary American going to progress despite such a long absence from the WTA Tour (the last singles match she played was last year in the first round of Wimbledon, when she retired injured against Aliaksandra Sasnovich)?
Even though Tan dropped serve and gave Williams the opportunity to serve for victory, it was clear that the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s win was not within an easy reach. Indeed, Tan broke back to level to 5-all and even earned a match point at 6-5. The brave Serena saved that one match point and forced a tiebreak.
Just as it seemed that Williams would dominate the tiebreak, Tan went from 0-4 to 5-4. Williams finally stopped her opponent’s momentum with a good drop shot and a lovely volley. Eventually, it was the cool-headed and capable Tan who edged Williams, even though the American left her body, mind and heart on the court.