Published on :
Wimbledon (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Snubbed by the federal detection system, admitted to Sciences Po, Harmony Tan no longer saw a future in tennis. But Nathalie Tauziat gave him confidence and pleasure, allowing him a few years later to climb to the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
The player of Cambodian and Vietnamese origins, born in Paris 24 years ago, left Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena in tears in January in the second round of the Australian Open. She was out in a wheelchair due to excruciating calf pain that caused her to retire before the end of the third set against Elina Svitolina.
But after a crazy week at Wimbledon, the smile hardly fades from her face, on and off the courts.
And there is something! Hundred and fifteenth in the world, she spoiled the surprise return of Queen Serena Williams by making her give up after a physically and mentally exhausting fight, in the first round on the legendary Center Court where the American had won 7 of her 23 Grand Slam titles.
Then she confirmed against the Spaniard Sara Sorribes, much better ranked than her (45th), and she pressed the British Katie Boulter in the equivalent ranking (118th).
So much so that after a crazy week, she will face the American Amanda Anisimova (25th) for a place in the quarter-finals of the most prestigious of tournaments, in which she is participating for the first time.
However, all this could not have happened without an almost unexpected meeting with the former player Nathalie Tauziat.
Because the game of variations in length, height, intensity to destabilize the opponent developed by the young Harmony Tan had not convinced anyone of the federal detection.
“It made me doubt a lot,” she says today. “When I was 16, I had my baccalaureate and I wanted to go back to school. I took the Sciences Po Paris entrance exam and was accepted. And then I thought a little bit, I gave myself two years to see what happened. And as I was starting to play a little better at that time, I continued”.
The reason for this “better” is the presence at his side of Tauziat, ex-French N.1, finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“I was a bit in the dark, it was the period when I wanted to resume my studies. My mother (journalist, editor’s note) tried to get coach numbers and she came across Nathalie’s. called, she answered us and that alone was huge! She told us to come and see her at her home in the South-West. We took the car the same evening, we drove seven hours, and we started: we did ten days of training, it was incredible”, says Tan.
For a few months, a coach of stars has been grafted to its structure: Sam Sumyk, who has trained in particular Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza.
“He brings me a lot about the way I still have to evolve because he works a lot on my game forward, to be more aggressive because I’m really defensive from the base. He made me understand that if I continued to defend like that all the time, I could not go to the highest level as he hopes”, explains the player.
The French coach explained to the Tennis Majors site that Tan was “capable of doing everything” with his tennis “all in sensations and in touch”. The goal, he added, is to evolve it to “try to dictate the game more”.
This game, which had almost cost Tan his career, therefore sparked this week at Wimbledon.
“Any other opponent would probably have suited my game better,” Serena Williams said after her defeat.
As for Katie Boulter, almost humiliated in front of her audience, “I think she doesn’t like my game”, commented Tan.
It remains to manage the emotional side for a player who is only playing her seventh Grand Slam tournament (including four at Roland-Garros), and who had never yet crossed the second round.
“It was the first match (against Serena Williams on the Center Court, editor’s note) which was really emotional. Afterwards, I quickly went down. I was + focus + on each match”, she assures with nevertheless a touch of d emotion in voice and eye.
“I am moved by my journey”.
© 2022 AFP