MONICA PUIG MAKES EMOTIONAL RETURN TO ACTION IN MADRID

Playing her first match since 2020, the former Olympic champion has undergone three surgeries in three years, and acquitted herself well against Danielle Collins on Friday.

A report by David Kane for Tennis.com.

Monica Puig put the most difficult chapter of her career behind her on Friday when she played her first match in over two years at the Mutua Madrid Open, putting on an impressive effort against Danielle Collins before bowing out to the Australian Open finalist, 7-5, 6-0.

“Such a special moment,” Puig tweeted after the match. “It’s been a long road to get back to this point. This is just the first step. Gracias Madrid.”

Such a special moment 😊 It’s been a long road to get back to this point. This is just the first step. Gracias Madrid.

The 2016 Olympic champion made history in Rio de Janeiro when she became the first Puerto Rican to stand atop an Olympic podium, but elbow and shoulder injuries—along with three surgeries—have kept the now-28-year-old sidelined since 2019.

Though she played just three matches in that span, Puig kept busy as a bourgeoning broadcaster, analyzing matches for ESPN Deportes and headlining her own Credentialed video for Tennis Channel.

“It made me appreciate the journalism side of things, the long hours that they put in,” she told the WTA earlier this year. “They have to be there watching all the matches, studying all the facts. I thought being a tennis player in a Grand Slam was crazy, but being a journalist at a Grand Slam is truly out of this world. I tip my hat to them.”

In that interview Puig, who announced her engagement to Nathan Rakitt back in October, aimed to be back on court in time Madrid, and made good on that promise thanks to a main-draw wild card. Taking on Collins, she made an emotional entrance to Arantxa Sanchez Stadium but shook the rust off to rally from 5-3 down in the opening set before the No. 6 seed ultimately proved too strong.

“Do you think I’m happy to be back on court?” she captioned on Instagram earlier this week.

Puig peaked at No. 27 in the WTA rankings in 2016, and won two WTA titles.

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