Ricky Martin sings the praises of Puig
MONICA Puig hopes her landmark gold medal for Puerto Rico will be an inspiration for Latin American women, even if she may struggle to compete with the island's boxers, baseball players and Ricky Martin.
She made history on Saturday when she defeated Australian Open champion and world No. 2 Angelique Kerber - 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 - in the tennis singles final showdown.
It was a first gold for the United States territory to add to the island's modest haul of two silvers and six bronzes previously.
She is also the first Puerto Rican woman to claim a medal at an Olympics.
The title charge was a surprise for a player ranked at 34 in the world and who came into Rio on the back of a couple of first-round losses, at Wimbledon and Montreal where she was even defeated by a qualifier.
"I'm really proud to represent Latin America and I hope this can be an inspiration to all Latin women that everything can be done in this life," said Puig.
In the aftermath of her victory, she struggled with the words of the Puerto Rico national anthem, admitting that her father Jose had e-mailed her the lyrics in the morning.
Despite being born in San Juan, she has spent most of her life in Miami and her pronounced American accent masks any trace of her roots.
In a way, Puig's win served to highlight the Caribbean island's standing in the world order. It is a US territory but not a state.
Puig made the final by seeing off French Open champion Garbine Muguruza as well as two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.
Puerto Rican-born crooner Martin was among the first to recognise his island's newest star even if Puig's 101,000 Twitter followers are trailing behind the singer's impressive 14 million.
"Today, without doubt, my Puerto Rico is the happiest island in the world. #thankyoumonica," tweeted Martin.