Tonya Harding on First Dancing With the Stars Performance: I Want to Show America I Belong Here

Tonya Harding was almost sent home from DWTS during week one, now she's ready to compete

By Chris Harnick May 01, 2018 1:15 PMTags
Watch: Tonya Harding Talks Surviving the "DWTS" Double Elimination

Tonya Harding found herself on the Dancing With the Stars chopping block during the very first show.

"I was like, ‘No, lord, please, don't let this be the last dance. I'm finally learning how to be a lady and learning how to dance and I haven't lost my last five pounds yet,'" Harding told E! News after her performance with pro dance partner Sasha Farber. "And Sasha is such a wonderful partner. He's taught me how to be graceful and it made me feel like I'm worth something on the dance floor, like I belong here."

She was called safe last, moving on to week two.

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The duo did the foxtrot to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston's "When You Believe." They received a 23 out of 30 from judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

"She's been through so much and it makes it so much more wanting to make her a better dancer. To work with her is a dream," Farber said. "I know she had a lot of pressure tonight because it was the first time she's performed in many, many years. This is like a second chance now, this is it."

Harding, who rose to fame in the early 1990s in the figure skating world and competed in two Olympics, but was mired in controversy following the attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan, said she got the chance to show America she was graceful. Harding returned to the spotlight in 2017 with the release of I, Tonya, which starred Margot Robbie as Harding. Allison Janey won an Oscar for playing Harding's mother and was in the DWTS audience.

"I'm just here to have fun and to show to myself and my friends that I can do this," Harding said. "And to America that I belong here. I belong with the other competitors who are wonderful athletes and Olympians. We're going to do as best as we can and see how far we can go."

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays on ABC.