Wimbledon 2022: Kenya’s Angella Okutoyi hopes country’s maiden Grand Slam title will inspire others

Angella Okutoyi became the first Kenyan to win a Wimbledon title as she and Dutch partner Rose Marie Nijkamp claimed the women’s doubles crown.

The unseeded pair beat Canadians Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko 3-6 6-4 11-9.

Okutoyi, 18, had never played on grass until last week when she lost in the first round of women’s singles.

“It’s great for me to be the first Kenyan to win a Grand Slam and reach a Grand Slam final,” Okutoyi told BBC Sport Africa after Saturday’s win.

“I am now able to inspire most players in Kenya and Africa. I am able to believe in them that they can achieve this too.

“It doesn’t matter where you are from or where you’ve been, it’s just the belief and the dream that you can achieve it. Now I believe we will definitely have more Kenyans here.”

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,” Okutoyi said. “She will be so happy. And I’m happy to be able to put a smile on her face.”

Despite her lack of experience on grass, Okutoyi said she was getting comfortable with the surface.

“It’s my first time at Wimbledon and now I’m starting to like the weed,” she said. “It doesn’t matter the surface – just the confidence you have in yourself, you can play on any surface. So yeah, I’m happy to play on grass for sure.”

Okutoyi will now start targeting senior events, moving away from the junior circuit.

“Since I was a child, my goal was to see myself perform on the big stages, win as many Grand Slams as possible and be the first Kenyan to compete in a Grand Slam,” she said. . “So for me, I believe it’s going to happen.

“I have the will to do it because my grandmother is my motivation. I’m really happy to have someone I can look up to because she’s everything to me. So I know I can do it. And I hope for the best in the future.”

“Jabeur is a source of inspiration”

Okutoyi’s Wimbledon title came the same day as Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur lost the women’s singles final to Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan.

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

“She is an inspiration to Africa, the Arab world and Tunisia,” Okutoyi said.

“Usually when I warm up, I see her warming up and also training and seeing what she’s doing has 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 games I see when someone is injured, she is 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 his exploits and desire to see improvements in the sport in his home country, Okutoyi hopes his title success at Wimbledon will help boost the popularity of tennis in Kenya.

She said: “We don’t get much recognition for Kenyan players. In Kenya, they focus more on athletics, not tennis, in general.

“But now that I’ve been able to win this, most people will now agree that the Kenyan players will see that we can do it. And that’s what I’ve always wanted to do for my country.

“I have a philosophy and that’s that a negative mind will never give you a positive life – that’s all I usually say when I want to inspire young children. They just have to believe in themselves more than anything else thing.”

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