Stephen Dunmoye

Tennis Kenya secretary general, Wanjiru Mbugua Karani has described Serena Williams as the ‘be-all’ for African tennis and African girls.

Williams, who has a total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles indicated that this year’s US Open is likely to be her last professional tournament as she prepares to “evolve” away from the sport.

Since the 40-year-old turned professional in 1995, winning her first Grand Slam trophy four years later, Serena and her older sister, Venus have become iconic figures.

In his words, “I can assure you there is nobody you ask who is their greatest player – who’s a girl in Africa – that would not say Serena.”

“They’re all so inspired to see a black girl being at the top of the tennis world and being one of the world’s greatest athletes. Everybody’s totally inspired by Serena.”

African hopefuls such as Kenyan teenager Angella Okutoyi, who won the Junior doubles title at this year’s Wimbledon, are already reaping the benefits of Serena’s legacy.

“If you ask Angella, the mentor – the star she would like to emulate – is obviously Serena Williams,”

“It’s extremely important, especially in a sport like tennis where we do not have many black girls, for her to see another black girl at the top.”

“She gets so inspired. She knows she can achieve [things in tennis] because there’s somebody ahead of her who has done this. And Serena and Venus really inspired a lot of black girls.”

“Tennis was a white man’s game in Africa. But when these two girls started playing, all of a sudden we all discovered we could play and get into tennis.”

“They have been more than just tennis players. They have been totally inspirational, and especially Serena for 23 Grand Slam titles. It’s just unbelievable what she has been able to achieve.”