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Lagos stands still for Venus, Serena

By John Egbokhan
The two most famous names in women tennis, Venus and Serena Williams were up and about in Lagos yesterday and the city stood still to herald their grand presence in the bustling commercial city of Africa.

On their first officialday in Africa’s most populated city, the two sisters, who between them have won 22 Grand Slam titles, practically stopped the free flow of traffic along the Ahmadu Bello Way, Osborne Road and some parts of Ikoyi.

Left Mr Richard Giwa Osagie, Chairman Ikoyi Club 1938, Venus and Serena Williams Photo by Biodun Ogunleye

Surrounded by fierce-looking security operatives, who went about their job professionally, the Williams sisters, who were accompanied by their mother, Oracene, got a rousing ovation at the Federal Palace Hotel and the Ikoyi Club 1938, where all the adjoining streets to the exclusive club, were closed to traffic because of them.

At the club, where chants of their names resonated at interval, the sisters conducted a tennis clinic for about 700 kids, who were excited with this once in a lifetime opportunity to knock the ball with the famed duo.

On their most burning ambition, they said that winning a doubles gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics was top on their mind.

“Winning a doubles gold is obviously top on our target. We love the Olympics and we hope to win gold at the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro”, said Venus.

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola presents the emblem of the state government to US tennis stars Venus (C) and Serena Williams during a visit at the Government House in Lagos October 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO

Serena said that they hope that their tour of Nigeria, which will see them play an exhibition match tomorrow at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club in Onikan, will usher in a change to Nigerian tennis and empower women and the girl-child.

“Nigerian girl must rise and achieve her potential. Its so amazing being here for the first time. I tried several times but I’m glad I made it this time around”.

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For Serena, who has won15 Grand Slam titles, being in Lagos was dream come true for her

“We are excited to be in Nigeria. My first time was a brief stop over when I traveled to an African country a few years back. It was disappointing that I could not interact with Nigerians back then, that’s why I’m going to cherish every minute I have to spend here now.

“It also makes me crazy to know that we have many fans in Nigeria, in fact, I receive thousands of messages everyday on Twitter from Nigerians who were asking if I would come here. Well here I am and It will be an honour to play against my sister for Nigerians and we will give you a good show..

“I hope that our presence and what we do would help to change Nigerian tennis. I hope that these players will be inspired to become the best”, added Serena, who last weekend won the WTA Tour Championship in Istanbul, Turkey.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.