Wimbledon 2022: Kenya's Okutoyi hopes country's first Grand Slam title inspires others

4 weeks ago 359
At the age of 18, Angela Okutoyi looks like the future of African tennis.

Angella Okutoyi made history on Saturday, becoming the first Kenyan to win a Wimbledon title as she and Dutch partner Rose Marie Nijkamp won the girls' doubles crown.

The unseeded pair defeated the fourth seeded Canadians Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko in a tight final, winning 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.

"It's great for me to be the first Kenyan to win a Grand Slam and to reach a final in a Grand Slam," Okutoyi told BBC Sport Africa.

"I'm now able to inspire most players from Kenya and Africa. I'm able to put a belief in them that they can also achieve it.

"It doesn't matter the background you come from or where you've been, it's just the belief and the dream that you can achieve it. Now I believe that we'll have more Kenyans here for sure."

Okutoyi had never played on grass before her exit from the opening round of the girls' singles last week.

"This is my first time in Wimbledon and now I'm starting to love grass. It doesn't matter about the surface - just the belief you have in yourself, you can play in any surface. So yeah, I'm happy to play on grass for sure."

Okutoyi will now start aiming for senior events, moving away from the juniors circuit.

"Ever since I was a kid, my goal was to see myself playing at the big stages, win as many Grand Slams as possible and to be the first Kenyan to be in a Grand Slam. So for me, I believe that that's going to happen."

"I have the drive to do it, because my grandmother is my drive. I'm really happy that I have a person who I can look up to because she's everything to me. So I know that I can do this. And I hope for the best in the future"

Okutoyi and her sister Roselida were raised by their grandmother, Mary, after their mother died in childbirth.

"She will be over the moon, she will be so happy for sure. She will be so happy. And I'm happy that I'm able to put a smile on her face."

Inspired by Jabeur

After playing in the Australian Open, could Kenyan Angella Okutoyi emulate her hero Serena Williams?

Angella Okutoyi's Wimbledon title came on the same day that Tunisia's Ons Jabeur lost the womens' singles final to Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina.

Jabeur became the first Arab player and first African woman in the open era to reach a Grand Slam final.

"She's an inspiration to Africa, to the Arab world and to Tunisia," said Okutoyi.

"Usually when I warm up, I see her warming up and also practicing and seeing what she does really motivated me to do good.

"Even though I don't know her that much, I know she has a good personality even from the matches I see when someone is injured she's there to help.

"She has a great personality and has inspired a lot of people and I hope to be like her one day."

Like Jabeur with her feats and desire to see improvements in the sport in her home nation, Okutoyi hopes her title success at Wimbledon will help boost the popularity of tennis in Kenya.

"We don't have much recognition of players from Kenya. In Kenya, they focus more on athletics, not in tennis, generally.

"But now that I've been able to win this, most people will now recognise that players from Kenya will see we can do this. And that's what I've always wanted to do for my country.

"I have a philosophy and it is that a negative mind will never give you a positive life - that's all I usually say when I want to inspire the young kids. They just have to believe in themselves more than anything else."

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