galleys to glory, the astonishing destiny of Harmony Tan

galleys to glory, the astonishing destiny of Harmony Tan

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Unknown to the general public barely a week ago, the French Harmony Tan continues the big performances at Wimbledon where she will seek a place in the quarter-finals against the American Amanda Anisimova on Monday. A surprising revelation for a player with a unique career.

“I’ve turned off social media notifications. I’m not reading anything.” Harmony Tan has changed worlds. And she wants to protect herself. At Wimbledon, the 24-year-old French tennis player went in the space of a week from being a virtual unknown to being a revelation of the tournament. And even attraction as his game denotes on the circuit.

By offering herself the legend Serena Williams, the 115th in the WTA ranking strikes hard from the start and immediately arouses curiosity. Sara Sorribes Tormo and Katie Boulter are also subjected to its law. “The grass goes well with my game”, she is surprised before tackling, this Monday, the most important match of her life, in the round of 16 against the American Amanda Anisimova (world No. 20) .

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Who would have bet a coin on Harmony Tan in week two at Wimbledon? Not many people. Before her first participation in London, the native of Paris with Cambodian and Vietnamese origins had made little headlines, even if we remember her tears in the 2nd round of the last Australian Open when she had to leave the court on a wheelchair, hit in the calf, facing Elina Svitolina.

“They didn’t believe in my game”

Seven months later, she displays her huge smile and can finally savor her success. Jubilatory. Because they weren’t likely to believe in her. “We did not believe in my game,” confirms the person concerned. His brief stint at INSEP was a failure. The Federation has never been convinced by his unacademic game made of variations in length, height, intensity to destabilize the opponent. “I don’t have 90s tennis anymore, she smiles. Sometimes I get a little lost in it.”

At 16, abandoned by the FFT, Tan then thought of giving up tennis and her dreams of a professional career. “I had just had my baccalaureate. I had passed my Sciences-Po competition in Paris. I was accepted. I told myself that I was going to resume my studies, that I was made for that.”

“My mother sold a house and apartments to be able to finance me”

It was without counting on the generosity and pugnacity of his mother. A former journalist, Lizqueen has always believed in her daughter’s talent. She never spared her efforts to help him. On all the plans. “My mother sold a house and apartments to be able to finance me during the first years, remembers Tan. I also had the help of my father. When my brother started working, he gave me a third of his salary every month. It wasn’t a problem for him because he fully believed in my project. Tennis is really very, very expensive with travel, hotels… If we don’t get help, it’s hard to continue. Without my family, I would not have continued to play tennis.”

The trigger thanks to Nathalie Tauziat

On her big financial efforts, Lizqueen specifies: “I did not make a bet, I did it first for the love of a mother. I am very happy that she had a project. I worked to leave a legacy for my children.” Tan’s mother doesn’t just help her daughter financially. She warms up the mobile phone, makes contact with tennis professionals.

Ex-world number 3, Nathalie Tauziat picks up and agrees to meet the Parisian. But at home, in the Southwest. Seven hours by car later, the one who takes care of the Canadian juniors today and Tan are reunited. The click. “The revelation, supports Harmony. Finally someone believes in me, and besides, she’s a champion! It came out of nowhere.” Tan spends ten days alongside the 1998 Wimbledon runner-up with whom she has something in common. “They also said of me that I had tennis from another time. But in the end, it was no longer said!”, says Tauziat.

Tan: “Not a revenge”

With Sam Sumyk, Harmony Tan’s coach since November, Tauziat is helping the Parisian progress. “I had done a lot of work on her tennis and gave Sam the basics. We try to do the best, him and me, for Harmony. I thought she had something special. She’s a good person. I like working with nice, pleasant people. I even wish she would shake me up a bit more.”

Even today, the two women have remained very close. Nathalie Tauziat texted him a tactical plan before his match against Boulter. In return, Tan continues to perform and amaze her like this aggressive slice that she discovers on the English turf.

If his career at Wimbledon will not earn him points in the WTA rankings, it will earn him at least more than 220,000 euros. The biggest check of his career. “I’m very proud of her, slips Lizqueen. She had no teenage life, no birthdays. These are sacrifices but not that huge.” For her part, if Harmony Tan does not see “revenge” in this success, that does not prevent her from being more and more hungry for victories. It will be time, after, to reactivate the notifications on the social networks…

With Eric Salliot in London

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