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Angella Okutoyi, Kenya's tennis prodigy, ready for Wimbledon

Angella Okutoyi, Kenya's tennis prodigy, ready for Wimbledon
Angella Okutoyi during a training session as her coach Francis Rogoi (background) looks on in Nairobi on April 26, 2022.   -  
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TONY KARUMBA/AFP or licensors


It has been a long and challenging path for Angella Okutoyi to reach the grass courts of Wimbledon but the 18-year-old is in no doubt about her ambition. She spends hours training on the court, five days a week. She credits her success to her grandmother and is inspired by legend Serena Williams.

Angella Okutoyi may just be 18 yet she's already a tennis sensation. In January she became the first Kenyan woman to win a Grand slam juniors match and the first Kenyan to reach the third round in singles of any event at a Grand Slam. Since then she won two more matches at the French open.

When the 2021 Africa Junior Champion trains with her twin sister Roselida Okutory, she always thinks of legend Serena Williams. Angella looks up to the US tennis player holding the most Grand Slam singles titles.

Angella and her twin sister were brought up by their grandmother Mary Ndong'a. Their mother died shortly after delivering the babies. Their mother died shortly after delevering the babies. They were first put in an orphanage but Mary Ndong'a eventually welcomed them modest in her modest home inside a private school in Nairobi where she worked as a cleaner:  "My sister and I were about to be adopted by different families. You wouldn't have known us and maybe I wouldn't be playing this sport [had it happened]" Angella explained last April to AFP reporters.

It was on the school's tennis courts that Angella discovered her vocation at the age of four and began her journey to the top of the African junior tennis world.

Today, the high school student attends classes via distance learning in order to spend as much time as possible on the courts (up to six hours a day).

She also put her passions for cooking, music and the social network Tik Tok on a hold to prepare for the Grand Slam tournaments.

The African Serena Williams?

Angella Okutoyi can talk during hours about Serena Williams. The 40-year-old tennis player inspired her career dreams: "I remember the time I was watching her match and I think she was pregnant, but no one knew [...] Just the fact that she fought it through the match, she's fearless and strong, Okutoyi comments.And I think we have kind of the same game style because like she's an aggressive baseliner and that's what I do, but I just want to be better. And one day achieve what she has achieved."

In order to make her dreams come true, Angella Okutoyi is focused on her next challenge. She will take part in the Junior Championships kicking off on July 2 at Wimbledon. The 18-year-olf will rely on her powerful style of play inspired by Williams.

"My expectation (in Wimbledon) is to collect as much points from those tournaments, to be able to maintain my ranking. I want to reach the semis and if I can win, I'll do that. I'll go as far as I can."

The Kenyan tennis prodigy gained her first experience on the grass last week at the Nottingham tournament. She will compete in her third Grand Slam with the support of an entire country. She is currently the No. 62-ranked junior in the world.

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