An easy win for Renata Zarazúa on Monday made her the first female tennis player from Mexico to advance to the second round at the Roland Garros French Open in 20 years.
The 22-year-old from Mexico City beat French wildcard player Elsa Jacquemot 6-1 and 6-2 in the first round of the tournament, claiming victory in just 64 minutes.
“It means a lot, I think it’s not only a win, I think it means more than that,” Zarazúa told reporters after the match. “I’m living a dream here in Paris and I just want to enjoy every match and every opportunity of being here this week.”
On Wednesday, Zarazúa’s 23rd birthday, she will take on 26-year-old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the No. 3 seed in the tournament. She moved to the second round after beating Russian Varvara Gracheva. Svitolina has made it into the final eight in Paris twice before.
Zarazúa is the first Mexican tennis player, male or female, to advance to the final draw of a Grand Slam tournament since Bruno Echegaray played at the United States Open in 2007, and only the fourth Mexican woman to do so, following in the historic footprints of Elena Subirats, Patricia Montaño and Angélica Gavaldón.
“I feel very happy to be part of history. I play to improve myself, not to make history, but this comes as a plus,” she said. “I love Mexico and I love that the people of Mexico support me. … Soccer is very big and I hope that tennis is also big now,” she said.
Zarazúa hopes her success will motivate young Mexican tennis players to train hard as she has over the years. She began competing at the age of 13. The following year she was the highest-ranked Mexican youth tennis player in the International Tennis Federation and among the 30 best in the world.
She now lives in Tampa, Florida, and has trained with France’s Patrick Mouratoglou, who has been recognized for his work with Serena Williams, one of the biggest stars in women’s tennis.
The young tennis player is coming into her own as she prepares for one of the biggest matches of her career thus far. Zarazúa came close to winning the Mexican Open in Acapulco earlier this year when she beat favorite and first seed Sloane Stephens but ended up losing to Canadian Leylah Fernández in the semi-finals.
With a record of 201 wins and 150 losses in singles matches, Zarazúa is currently ranked 178th in the world.