Four players will break new ground at Roland Garros 2021 by contesting the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. Get to know them here at wtatennis.com.
Océane Babel (FRA)
French wildcard Océane Babel has little pro experience to date - but is putting together a glittering junior career. The 17-year-old from Sarcelles is the junior World No.7, a quarterfinalist in the Roland Garros girls' event last year, and in March captured her biggest trophy yet at the Criciúma Grade A tournament.
Babel has competed in just 11 ITF events at pro level, highlighted by a semifinal run at the Santarem W15 last September. Currently at No.1105 in the WTA rankings, Babel told itftennis.com earlier this year that she initially learned to play tennis on her Nintendo Wii. She has also been inspired by the words of the legendary Venus Williams. After Babel plucked up the courage to speak to the seven-time Grand Slam champion at Roland Garros 2018, Venus told her, "Big tennis, big prizes" - a phrase that has stuck with Babel ever since.
Ekaterine Gorgodze (GEO)
In 2006, a 14-year-old Ekaterine Gorgodze played the first professional tournament of her career at home in Tbilisi - and made it all the way to the final. Fifteen years later, the Georgian has made it to the Grand Slam stage at last, coming through qualifying with wins over Renata Zarazua, Elitsa Kostova and Nuria Parrizas Diaz. After the last victory, the 29-year-old World No.222 was overcome with emotion courtside with her team.
Gorgodze has won 16 ITF titles over the years, but her career took off in earnest in 2018, the year she rocketed from World No.357 to World No.154 and began to compete in Grand Slam qualifying. This year, she has turned around a dire start in style. Having lost her first seven matches of 2021, Gorgodze has gone 11-4 since turning her attentions to clay.
The fifth Georgian to play in a Grand Slam main draw following Leila Meskhi, Anna Tatishvili, Sofia Shapatava and Mariam Bolkvadze, Gorgodze will now seek to win her first match at this level. In her previous three WTA-level main draws (Baku 2012, Palermo 2019, Stuttgart 2021), she has yet to win a set.
Liang En-Shuo (TPE)
Exactly a decade after a 10-year-old Liang En-Shuo watched Li Na become the first Asian woman to win a Grand Slam title at Roland Garros 2011, she has come through qualifying without dropping a set to make her own debut in Paris.
"It really inspired me to play, that my future could be tennis, because her winning a Grand Slam showed me the way," Liang told rolandgarros.com after routing Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-2 to seal her place in the main draw.
The 20-year-old from Chinese Taipei was a standout junior, winning the 2018 Australian Open girls' title - part of a 22-match winning streak at that level which included victories over Coco Gauff, Wang Xiyu and Clara Burel. In the same year, Liang reached the quarterfinals of Nanchang on her WTA main draw debut.
She hit a career high of World No.150 in May 2019, but needed to undergo left wrist surgery last April. A patchy comeback season has seen Liang qualify for Dubai in March, scoring a career-best win over Misaki Doi en route, but go winless in four clay tournaments prior to Roland Garros as her ranking fell to World No.295.
This week, she has recovered in style. Despite her five-foot-two height, Liang packs a punch from the baseline, particularly with her forehand - and racked up 49 winners in her last two matches combined.
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL)
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano has unquestionably been the revelation of the 2021 clay season. The Colombian has been on fans' radar since her junior days, particularly following a stellar 2019. That year, she won the US Open girls' title and became the junior World No.1 while concurrently transitioning smoothly into the pros. In her second WTA main draw, she reached the 2019 Bogota quarterfinals and rocketed from World No.723 to World No.186 in the year-end rankings.
This year, Osorio Serrano has shown that she's ready for the big time. A dream title run as a wildcard at home in Bogota catapulted her into the spotlight. She has backed that up with semifinal runs in both of her subsequent tournaments, in Charleston and Belgrade, and cracked the Top 100 last week as a result.
Along the way, Osorio Serrano has proved to be a captivating presence on court. The 19-year-old plays with passion, thrives on harnessing the crowd's energy and can never be ruled out of a comeback from seemingly impossible positions. She's also a nuanced player, able to blend touch, footspeed and baseline pace to problem-solve her way through matches.
Despite this, Osorio Serrano had to navigate qualifying this week - which she did efficiently, getting past Olga Danilovic, Richel Hogenkamp and Monica Niculescu without dropping a set. She has spoken about the inspiring formative impact former Colombian WTA players, such as Fabiola Zuluaga and Mariana Duque-Mariño, have had on her. Now Osorio Serrano gets to follow in their footsteps as the sixth Colombian woman to play a Grand Slam main draw in the Open Era.
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