One of the most poignant images from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was of a distraught Beiwen being wheeled out of the court after she ruptured her Achilles in the last 16 on 29 July 2021 against He Bing Jiao. Surgery followed a week later and it was eight months before she returned to action at the All England in March.
And in today’s final against Kim Ga Eun at the Sydney Olympic Park, despite dropping a keenly fought opener 22-20, Beiwen, whose last title was the 2018 India Open, was determined not to let the chance of ending her wait for glory on a significant date go to waste.
She came back and won the next two, 21-16 21-8.
“It means a lot. I feel touched because today is exactly two years since my surgery. I feel so emotional right now,” beamed the ever-smiling 33-year-old. “I didn’t really think about winning, I just kept telling myself one (point) by one. I was tired and my leg didn’t have enough power but I managed to stay patient (to get the job done).
“I should aim for more (titles) but this one makes me happy. I didn’t play my best but it’s time to celebrate!”
Beiwen has seen her form pick up in recent weeks. She finished runner-up at the Taipei Open in June, made the Canada Open semifinals and reached the Japan Open quarterfinals on her return from an injury that forced her to concede a walkover to Ratchanok Intanon in Calgary.
Now that she is a champion again after a lenghty period, does the American feel close to her best?
“I’m still not stable enough,” admitted the former world No.9, now 12th. “In the second round against the young girl (Huang Yu Hsun of Chinese Taipei), you could see I didn’t always look like a top 10 player. So I still need to improve step by step. I don’t have a coach, so it will take longer than others for me to reach a really high level.”