Angella Okutoyi and Meshkat al-Zahra Safi make history at Australian Open


Mishkat Zahra Safi of Iran and Angela Okotoi of Kenya reached historic milestones in the first major tournament of the year and inspired the next generation of talent.

On Sunday, Okotoi became the first girl from Kenya to win a junior Grand Slam match and shows no signs of slowing down.

After defeating Australia’s Zara Lark in three sets on Tuesday, she is now the first Kenyan to reach the third round of a Grand Slam in any singles event.

“I am happy to represent my country and everyone back home,” she said after her win. “It gives me motivation and I think it gives Kenyan children the motivation to believe they can do it.”

Meanwhile, Safi made history on Sunday when she became the first Iranian – boy or girl – to win a Grand Slam junior match.

The 17-year-old defeated Australia’s Anja Nayyar 6-4 6-3 at the Australian Open in an event that was yet another achievement in her already impressive fledgling career.

“I wanted to say about my match today that by the grace of God I was able to perform well in my first match against an Australian opponent from the host country,” she said in a statement. Video On Varziesh Sports Channel 3.

She also thanked “dear Iranians for all their messages of support and energy.”

Angela Okotoye in play during the junior Australian Open.

Inspiring the next generation

According to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), Safi won 10 junior singles and doubles titles last year and moved up the junior rankings to 74th in the world.

She also became the first player from Iran to be ranked in the top 100 in the junior rankings and is excited to use her success to motivate more girls to take up the sport.

Safi lost in the next round to Belgium’s Sofia Costolas 6-0 6-2 on Tuesday but is determined to inspire others.

“Although this is not my ultimate goal, it gives me a great feeling to be a motivator and encouragement for other emerging Iranian players,” Safi told the ITF ahead of the Australian Open.

“In the past years, perhaps the Iranian players thought it was difficult to achieve something at the international level.

“I hope the improvements I have made will encourage the players and coaches to redouble their efforts.”

Asfi has previously admitted the difficulties of developing as a tennis player in Iran – where resources are scarce – but is determined to continue moving up the ranks.

In Iran, sports and politics have always mixed up and athletes are under tremendous pressure to comply with a set of rules.

Safi in play during the first round on January 23, 2022 at Melbourne Park.

“I’ve been through really hard times”

There were many examples of athletes fleeing the country Safety concerns.
“To get to this point, I have had a hard time because playing professional tennis in my country is very difficult,” she said added to the ITF.

“I’ve had a really tough time playing tournaments and getting visas and not having sponsors many times.

“But if I get a message to other guys like me, I will just say, ‘Don’t give up on your dreams.’ When I started, everyone in Iran was saying that it’s impossible and that I can’t play Grand Slams, especially for my mom.

“That’s why I never told my dream to anyone, I just kept pushing. I want to tell people: ‘Keep pushing and believing in your dream.’ Reaching this success today is really big and I hope I can keep going.”



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