US tennis star Serena Williams said on Wednesday that she hopes her African tour with elder sister Venus will encourage athletes on the continent to strive for excellence in their sport.
The pair, who have won a combined 22 major women’s singles championships, are in Nigeria before heading to South Africa today, in a two-country visit to promote women’s rights.
“We would definitely love to see more athletes come out of Africa,” Serena said.
“We were able to break the mould in a sport that was just really dominated by white people and to have a face of color that can come in and dominate [shows] it doesn’t matter what your background is and where you come from,” she said.
Serena, 31, has visited other African nations before, while Venus, 32, landed on the continent for the first time on Tuesday.
They began their day with a visit to Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola and ran a tennis clinic at the exclusive Ikoyi Club, where they schooled a group of children in some tennis basics.
“When I played them I felt nervous at first, playing one of the best in the world,” eight-year-old Akinola Ogunleye said. “Then I got used to playing them … If they can be that, why can’t I?”
The sisters are to play a head-to-head exhibition match today before leaving for South Africa.