Puerto Rico’s national anthem played for the first time at the Olympic Games on Saturday after an unexpected – and historic – victory from tennis player Monica Puig.
At just 22 years old and ranked 34th in the world, Puig beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber for the gold medal in women’s singles, marking the first gold medal for her country and becoming the first woman representing Puerto Rico to earn any medal at an Olympics.
“I’m speechless,” Puig said after the match, according to NPR. “I wanted it so bad.”
The underdog faced No. 2-ranked Kerber and seized the first set, 6-4. The German athlete responded by taking the second set, also 6-4.
Puig was leading 5-0 in the decisive third set, but Kerber took a game to keep the match going. However, Puig was able to wrap things up in the seventh game as fans chanted, “Si se puede,” winning 6-1.
The Puerto Rican, now living in Miami, dissolved in tears and knelt on the court when the result was final, taking in the momentous victory after the intense two-hour, nine-minute match.
“I think I united a nation. And I just love where I come from,” Puig told NBC following her historic win.
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“Everyone at Casa Miranda is bawling,” the creator of Broadway hit Hamilton tweeted.
Before Puig’s gold, Team Puerto Rico had amassed eight silver and bronze Olympic medals.
Gigi Fernandez, who is Puerto Rican, won two Olympic women’s doubles gold medals in tennis, but did so while representing the United States.
“This is definitely for them,” Puig said of her native country to NBC. “They’re going through some tough times right now and they needed this, and I needed this.”