Monica Puig is still adjusting to life as an Olympic gold medalist. Never having won a big title, Puig became an instant star winning a first gold medal for her country of Puerto Rico. And with it came the attention, even from celebrities she would never believe knew who she was.
“I did see a Sports Illustrated article, Mike Tyson,” Puig said in Wuhan on Sunday after losing to Roberta Vinci. “He didn’t even know who won the boxing gold medal, but he knew who won the women’s singles gold medal. I said, No way. He’s a tennis fan because his daughter plays tennis. He’s following tennis. I was like, What, this is crazy.
“Even J. Lo, Mark Anthony, all these people. I was reading all the tweets going, Wow, this feels so cool.
“I think the ones that were most important to me were my family and everybody who has been with me during my climb up. It was nice to celebrate with them because everybody was crying with me, so it was great.”
Puig reminded that life after a tennis gold isn’t easy because this sport keeps going while other sports go on hiatus.
“A lot of people stopped right after the Olympics and they’re having fun,” Puig said. “A lot of gymnasts are doing Dancing with the Stars, all this and that. I’m in Wuhan, which is not bad. It’s not bad.
“I feel like Rio definitely drained me mentally and physically because it was a lot to take in. I wish I obviously would have had that time to full-on celebrate, and that would have been it. The tennis calendar isn’t that forgiving.”
Despite the tough schedule and the extra attention, Puig is up to the task.
“There’s no sort of pressure,” she said. “I’m just going to try to continue to play the way I’ve been playing. At this part of the year it’s normal to expect some lows. I’ve been playing a lot of tennis this season. I’ve played a lot of matches, a lot of tournaments.
“It’s just about continuing to stay positive and try and continue to do my best every single time I go out onto the court.”
The 27th-ranked Puig turns 23 on Tuesday. She has gone 2-3 since her Olympic gold.
“The season is almost over,” she said. “I know when vacation time comes around, I’m not going to be thinking about tennis. I’m going to turn off Twitter, Instagram. I am going to be like hiatus, out. Nobody is going to know about me for two weeks.”
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