“It brought tears to my eyes again”: Monica Puig meets the Puerto Rican public by beating Venus Williams in a friendly match

“It brought tears to my eyes again”: Monica Puig meets the Puerto Rican public by beating Venus Williams in a friendly match

The “Pica Power” once again took over the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum.

Puerto Rican Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig and world tennis star Venus Williams performed on Friday with an exhibition show before some 15,000 fans satisfied with the event called “Battle of Legends” at the Hato Rey facility.

Puig took the friendly match with a tie braker 10-6 after winning the first set 7-5, with Williams taking the second 6-4.

Those present shouted “let’s go Monica” with the tiebreaker tied 6-6. Puig scored four points in a row to seal the victory and receive the love of the fans.

“I don’t know what to think because you brought tears to my eyes again.”Puig said after the game.

Puig, 29 years old and the first athlete from Puerto Rico to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games (Rio 2016), returned to a tennis court after retiring as a professional tennis player during the summer of 2022.

Venus Williams reacts after a play against Monica Puig. (David Villafane Ramos)

“Thank you very much for coming and participating in this great event. Thank you Venus for coming to Puerto Rico and making a dream come true,” she added.

Williams, 43 years old and a seven-time grand slam winner, was impressed by the excitement of the locals in the stands.

“I have never played in front of an audience with so much love and passion,” said Williams, still active on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) circuit.

“I was a little nervous, but Monica is still very good. I tried to remember the strategies I used the last few times we played. It was a great experience on my first time in Puerto Rico,” she added.

Williams previously beat Puig in 2013 and 2015 during the WTA tour.

The clash began at 9 pm after both tennis players entered the court going down the stairs in the north area among the fans recording the moment with their cell phones.

In a slow start, Puig took control of the first set 2-0 before Williams tied the score. At one point, Puig had his brother Ricky play against the veteran Williams in one of the cozy moments of the evening.

At each break, fans in the sand section approached both of them asking for “selfies,” which they did not deny.

In the presence of figures such as world boxing champion Amanda Serrano; International Boxing Hall of Fame member Felix “Tito” Trinidad; rock singer Robi “Draco” Rosa; the singer and actress Ana Isabelle, and the urban music artist Myke Towers, Puig was able to come back to take the first set.

Venus Williams directs the ball against Monica Puig during the match at the "Choliseo"which received about 15,000 people.
Venus Williams directs the ball against Monica Puig during the match at the “Choliseo”, which received about 15,000 people. (David Villafane Ramos)

At one point, Puig was surprised when he responded to a powerful Williams serve with a lob that landed near the net for a point. Immediately, the Puerto Rican woman put her hand over her mouth in disbelief at what she had achieved. Williams then demonstrated his superiority with a direct serve.

Puig shook off the “mold” of 15 months of inactivity with accurate lateral attacks, plus a precise serve.

In the second set, Puig and Williams allowed two fans to play a game. The two did not disappoint with a dramatic performance that stole the show.

Williams sealed the second set when the clash turned into a doubles match by calling two ushers to “pick up balls” to play with them.

The intensity of the game increased for the “tie braker”, in favor of the Puerto Rican in the second friendly match at the “Choliseo”. The first was against the Russian Maria Sharapova in 2017.

After the game, Caridad Pierluisi, sister of the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi; and Noelia Garcia, Secretary of the Interior, presented the trophies. The officials received boos from a section of the fans in the middle of the ceremony.

The night ended with an artistic presentation by Pedro Capo and Nino Garcia with Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres as master of ceremonies.

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