An American female tennis player made history at the U.S. Open -- and it was not Serena or Venus Williams.
Catherine Bellis, a 15-year-old wild card in the tournament, became the youngest American woman to win a U.S. Open match on Tuesday in 28 years when she defeated the tournament’s 12th seed, Dominika Cibulkova, in the first round.
“It’s crazy to think that I’m actually here right now with all these other people,” Bellis, of Atherton, Calif., told reporters after her 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, win at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“I’m still in shock after the match,” she said.
Bellis, who goes by the nickname Cici, was playing in just her 13th professional tennis match Tuesday against Cibulkova, the 13th ranked player in the world and runner-up at this year's Australian Open.
Bellis is ranked 1,208 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings.
“I went into the match thinking it would be such a great experience but never thought I would come out on top winning,” Bellis said in her post-match press conference.
Bellis’ match was assigned to an outside court but quickly drew a crowd – and ESPN TV cameras – as her improbable win came to fruition.
The last time a 15-year-old won a match at the U.S. Open was now 33-year-oldAnna Kournikova's win in 1996, before Bellis was even born.
The New York Daily News reports Bellis was flooded by autograph seekers after her win and later had to deal with a more typical problem for the teenager that she is: a flood of text messages.
“I can’t even count,” she said while scrolling down her phone, according to the Daily News. “It’s still going.”
Bellis will next face Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, a 20-year-old ranked No. 48 in the world.