It’s not every day that a young player gets to make her WTA Tour debut at home, against the GOAT.
But Lisa Pigato, a 17-year-old Italian, did just that Monday against Serena Williams in Parma.
And she embraced the occasion with brilliant teenaged insouciance.
Pigato broke Williams in the opening game, which was probably a bucket list moment. But even if she ended up losing 6-3, 6-2, it didn’t end there.
After a nice exchange at the net, during which Pigato (WTA ranking No. 512) seemed not the least bit overawed to banter with the champion, she went even further.
She came back over to Williams’s chair afterwards, and asked her to come over and have a photo taken to commemorate the moment.
Williams was brilliant in reply, creating an adorable moment.
Now, this happens regularly at a tennis tournament – but after practices.
It feels as though Roger Federer, who practices with kids and not-so-kids all the time, does this as a matter of routine. There are probably hundreds of such moments commemorated in phones and photo albums across the tennis universe.
“Really cool and gutsy”
But Williams most often practices with her hitting partner, or occasionally with her sister. So she doesn’t get that experience often.
This was a first, she said afterwards. Whether it was or not, she liked it.
“I’m not sure if that (ever) happened. After the match, in the locker room or something like that, I usually take photos. It really cool and gutsy,” Williams said.
“I liked her moment. It was her first major match on the WTA Tour. So I thought it was a really good opportunity to take a photo of that. She’s going to look back years later and be, like, ‘Well, this was my first match’ “.– Serena Williams, on the moment
You have to give major props to Pigato, who had no qualms at all about approaching the great champion. Don’t ask, don’t get. And she’ll have that moment forever, wherever her career takes her.
“I liked it. I liked it a lot,” Williams added. “I wish I’d done that with my first match. It would have been really cool.”
Later in the day, Pigato said she hadn’t thought ahead of time about asking Serena for a pic to mark the moment.
“No, no … I just didn’t think anything, because I was so intense. I just wanted to play this match and enjoy it,” she told Open Court during her Zoom conference.
“Big emotions. Playing against her was my dream. I’m really happy to play against her and to make some games. Then, when we finished the match, I just thanked her, because it was an honour playing against her,” she added. “She told me that I’m a good player, and it was fantastic to talk with her.”