LUXEMBOURG - An emotional Monica Puig dedicated her runner-up finish at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open to the people of Puerto Rico on Saturday, still recovering from the devestating effects of Hurrican Maria.
Puerto Rico's first-ever gold medalist, Puig reached her first final since her stunning triumph in Rio in Luxembourg, upsetting top seed Angelique Kerber and No.5 seed Elise Mertens along the way.
The World No.58 struggled to hold back tears more than once after finishing runner-up to Germany's Carina Witthoeft in the final, and received a lengthy ovation from the assembled crowd, tournament staff, and Witthoeft on the court as she was congratulated for her achievement during the trophy presentation.
"I'm going to try and get through this without crying, so bear with me," Puig told the fans. "Before I thank everybody else, to everybody that's watching in Puerto Rico - this tournament is for you. I know we've had our ups and downs, but I hope that everything is going to get better.
"I'm going to stand by your side and be there to support every step of the year, and we're going to come back stronger from this. Puerto Rico, fuerza and lo qiuero mucho."
Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, caused a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico in its wake in late September, resulting in the deaths of nearly 50 people and destruction across the country.
One month following the storm, 88% of the island remains without power and 29% lacks potable water.
Puig started a YouCaring crowdfunding campaign shortly after the storm hit her home country, raising nearly $150,000 for hurricane relief. Among several WTA and tennis stars who've contributed to her cause, Maria Sharapova pledged the profits from sales of her candy, Sugarpova, through the end of the year to the fund.