Updated: Jul 19
Before this weekend, Fernanda Contreras Gómez had never been to the All England Club. At Wimbledon, she became the first woman from Mexico to hold a berth in the main-draw competition since 1996.
Nevertheless, she had the impression that she was fairly familiar with the area. That's because the 24-year-old Contreras Gómez has grown up hearing her grandfather's stories about the grass-court Grand Slam competition. Francisco "Pancho" Contreras Serrano, her grandfather, competed in singles and mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1958, reaching the semifinals of both events.
Walking around the grounds, according to Contreras Gómez, was "very cool." "I feel like someone is pinching me!"
She won a first-round match in the main draw at the French Open after qualifying for it in May. She qualified for Wimbledon last week, and on Monday, the 65th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland defeated her 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round of the main tournament. This dropped her ranking to 154th.
The excitement of Contreras Gómez was unabated.
It was still really enchanted. There were times when I thought, "Oh my god, I'm in London." That is crazy. With a view of Centre Court, my court was rather lovely. Every aspect was perfect. The grass was exceptionally lush. hardly ever. I felt like I was floating. When she was 13 years old, Contreras Gómez relocated to Austin, Texas with her family. She later attended Vanderbilt University to study mechanical engineering and play tennis.
"The mood was joyful. There were times of patience and doubt, such as, "Am I going to play in the rain today?" she remarked. "The anxious anticipation of playing. I'm going to leave the court right now.
She was told by her grandfather about the rigors of the tennis tour during his playing days, particularly the travel. She claimed that while he was overseas competing, he missed the birth of each of his four children and gave them all middle names that referenced the cities in which he was competing at the time: Altamira, Cleveland, Brisbane, and, yes, Wimbledon for a son born in 1958.
After Contreras Gómez won the opportunity to take part in the off-site qualifying rounds, the two spoke on the phone.
His granddaughter's message?
I'm proud of you, he said. In the Wimbledon draw, there is another "F. Contreras."
Contreras Gómez declared after her one-hour bout against Linette that she will speak with her grandfather on Tuesday.
He's going to want to contrast my experience with his, she assured him.