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The Lottery: Camila Osorio hits (belated) jackpot, makes most of second life at Roland Garros
Defeat in qualifying nearly spelled disaster for the plucky Colombian, but a window opened in time for her to take advantage and stay alive in Paris.
Published May 31, 2023
FLASHBACK: Osorio scored the biggest win of her young career just two weeks ago in Rome over Caroline Garcia.
PARIS—Never has an athlete been happier to win a first-round match: for Camila Osorio, it was as though she had won the lottery.
“We’re in! We’re playing next round!” announces the excitable Colombian straight into the camera, tiny microphone in hand and flushed with a Publishers Clearing House glow. She had just staved off an inspired Ana Bogdan, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to reach the second round of Roland Garros for a second straight season. “Thank you so much for the support and for the tweet that went viral. We’re made it, so I’m pretty lucky.”
The tweet in question was Osorio’s first flash of hope that a near-disastrous Roland Garros could yet turn around. Injuries left the former world No. 33 affectionately known as Camí ranked too low for the main draw—despite a Rome resurgence featured a first-ever Top 5 win over Caroline Garcia—and an in-form Mirra Andreeva had ostensibly ended her qualifying campaign one match from the finish line when a fan let her know that entry as a lucky loser was more than likely.
“He told me [Paula] Badosa had withdrawn and there were going to be three lucky losers, so I still had a chance,” she recalled on Monday. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, yeah!’ But then they did the lucky loser draw and I was the last one!”
The draw was amended and the defensive shotmaker was still absent, and two more late withdrawals provided no relief.
“I consider myself pretty lucky in general,” she tells me, “like something will happen that I wasn’t thinking would, it’s like the good vibes are coming my way. But in this situation, it was like, ‘I think I’m a good person; how can this be happening?’ I was crying a lot.”
It has been an emotional eight months for Osorio, who bid farewell to idol Roger Federer from afar as he played his final match at Laver Cup.
“I cried so much!” she exclaims and then, after a pause, “I’m like a baby, I’m crying over everything. I need to control myself and grow up…but I think after his match, everyone was crying, even Rafa!”
In Spanish we say, cuando la suerte llegue que tenga la trabajando,” she says. “I’ll try to translate it, but basically it means that when luck comes, you’re already working. Camila Osorio
Meanwhile in Paris, sorrow turns to despair as main-draw action gets underway, but in the City of Light, Osorio still holds a candle.
“I believe in God, so I was praying a lot the night before like, ‘Please, God, please give me this chance.’”
The call finally comes when Orosio is on Court 12, watching countryman Daniel Elahi Galán.
“I was thinking it was good news but on my way to the supervisor’s office, I was trying to calm myself down and thinking that, if they were going to tell me there’s no chance, it was going to be fine. But the other side of my mind was telling me that if they’re calling me, it has to be because something happened.”
What happened was American Caty McNally became the sixth woman to withdraw from the tournament, granting Osorio the second chance she had been craving.
“In Spanish we say, cuando la suerte llegue que tenga la trabajando,” she says. “I’ll try to translate it, but basically it means that when luck comes, you’re already working.”
Against Bogdan, she rallied from a set down and held off a comeback from the Romanian, who trailed 1-5 in the final set, to secure an emotional victory. She even found the fan from qualifying for a full-circle selfie.
“Once it happened, I was so thankful and thinking, ‘Why was I crying so much over this?’ I think it was a miracle, but I had to trust that something good would happen for me.”
Osorio will have to keep that trust if she wants to match her career-best Grand Slam result and reach the third round: No. 28 seed Elise Mertens awaits. Their one previous encounter ended when a mid-match injury took the Colombian out of contention, kicking off the cycle of injuries and inconsistencies in which she had hitherto found herself.
“I have to prepare myself, do as best as I can, and that’s what I’ve been doing,” she says. “To be honest, I feel great, I’m doing all right, I’m working. I’m feeling good, I have the chance, and I’ll try to approach it and win, why not?”
She ends with her TRL-style sign-off and heads off for a big dinner—perhaps a plate of steak frites—but who could begrudge her? If only for this week, Osorio has nothing left to lose.