London: Being one of the most diminutive figures in the Wimbledon, Chinese tennis player Zheng Jie feels like a ‘lightweight champion’.
Zheng stands only 1.64 metres and weighs 50kg, looked just humbled in stature on Centre Court by Serena Williams, who is 1.75m and about 70kg of body weight, Xinhua reports.
“After coming off the court (Saturday), I just thought, ‘What if tennis was divided into several categories like weightlifting?’,” Zheng said.
“When I was a child, I always dreamt that I could grow 10 centimetres taller. After the match, it flashed cross my mind again for the first time during the years.”
But the third-round match proved far closer than their physical stature suggested. Zheng, the 25th seed, put up an “unbelievable” fight against Williams but was just edged out in a final set thriller.
Zheng took the first set and hung on in the third until the end 6-7 (5), 6-2, 9-7 and gave Williams plenty to think about with an impressive display of grass court tennis.
“She’s playing unbelievable on grass,” Williams said of Zheng.
The weapon that helped Williams escape an upset was her serve. She hit a Wimbledon-record 23 aces, held every service game en route to the win. “It definitely helped me out today because I wasn’t doing my best on my return like I normally do,” she said.
But she said that there is no regret for her. “I have played my best tennis, tried my best and found my best form.”
Zheng became China’s first player to enter the last four in a Grand Slam event in 2008 when she made the semi-finals at the Wimbledon. But she was stopped by Williams in the same court.
She said this marathon match has boosted her confidence and she could do better when coming back during the Olympic Games in three weeks.
“Wimbledon is my favourite,” Zheng said. “I hope to do better this year at the Olympics than in Beijing and Athens.”
Zheng won the women’s doubles bronze medal four years ago in Beijing with her long-time partner Yan, whom she played together when she also took the Wimbledon and Australian Open champions in 2006.
But in the singles event, she was not very much successful in the Olympic arena, where she was stopped in the first round in Athens and third round in Beijing.