After rewriting the tennis history books at the Australian Open, Kenya’s Angella Okutoyi received a hero’s welcome back home in Nairobi.
Okutoyi, who turned 18 on January 29, made headlines around the world after becoming the first girl from her country to win a Grand Slam juniors match. But the African U-18 and U-14 champion didn’t stop there, and she went on to reach the third round.
The teenager’s name was a trending topic on social media for several days in Africa, and she even got a shout out from Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o along the way.
“If you were looking for a sign, here it is,” Okutoyi wrote on social media.
Okutoyi was only the second player from her country to compete in the Australian Open after Paul Wekesa—who was also in attendance to welcome her home with a tennis festival. The 18-year-old was also received by a crowd of well-wishes and dignitaries with flower bouquets at the airport upon her arrival.
Okutoyi hopes her history-making run and her inspiring story will encourage other Kenyan children to take up the sport.
“I was raised in an orphanage home, where I could not afford a meal. In Kenya, most people who play tennis are not well-off,” Okutoyi told Kenyan newspaper The Standard.
“Their families, like mine, don’t have much and I just want to encourage them and say that the situation doesn’t mean they cannot reach here, and it doesn’t define them.”
Okutoyi, who is a part of the ITF’s Grand Slam Development Fund, rose to No. 53 in the ITF junior rankings after her Melbourne heroics.
Meet – Angella Okutoyi, Kenya’s first young woman to win a Grand Slam juniors match at the Australian Open.
The 18-year-old tennis star also made history by becoming first Kenyan woman to reach the third round in singles of any event at a Grand Slam. She also became the second player from her country to compete in the Australian Open after Paul Wekesa.
“In Kenya, most people who play tennis are not well-off. Their families, like mine, don’t have much and I just want to encourage them and say that situation doesn’t mean they cannot reach here, and it doesn’t define them,” said Angella Okutoyi (the inspirational U14 and U18 African tennis champion).
Sources: Tennis.com Women power Africa