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THE sum of one million dollar (about N157m) was expended on the tour of tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams, to Lagos for Breaking The Mould project.
Saturday Tribunesport exclusively gathered from a close associate of the Americans that the said amount was coughed up by Connect Marketing, Nigeria and Octagon, a US-based sport company.
The tour which was facilitated by International Media Group (IMG), witnessed the duo of Venus and Serena engage in tennis clinic for about 200 kids and motivational talks for young girls in secondary schools in Lagos.
Saturday Tribunesport gathered that the expenses covered flight tickets for all 15 members of the team made up of coaches, physio, personal guards and medicals.
Meanwhile, Venus defeated Serena 6-4, 7-5 in two straight sets in the exhibition match at Lord Rumens Centre Court of the Lagos State Tennis Court, Lagos Island on Friday.
The match was watched by dignitaries such as former vice-president; Dr Alex Ekwueme, President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF), Mallam Sani Ndanusa and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Musiliu Obanikoro.
Others included the Asoju Oba of Lagos, Chief Molade Okoya Thomas, and President of Nigeria Football and Other Supporters Club, Rafiu Ladipo. The sisters expressed delight at the overwhelming support from spectators, who said the experience and friendship shared was worthwhile.
Serena, 31, said:``Being in Nigeria has been an exciting and worthwhile experience. I am delighted to have been here and excited to know we have such a huge support here.”
Also, Venus, 32, expressed delight at the tour, said she was hopeful that the three-day tour would impact positively on the lives of many young Nigerians.
“Being here is one of the most exciting moments I have ever had and I believe that our visit would ``break the mould,” and inspire young Nigerians.
``This has been my first experience with Africa and what a wonderful experience it has been for me since I came here,” she said.
Prior to the match by the Williams sisters, Nigeria’s Women number one, Fatima Abinu had beaten her compatriot, the number three, 16-year-old Sarah Adegoke 4-3 in an exhibition match.
The Williams sisters were expect to depart the country later on Friday for Durban, South Africa, for a four-day visit.
Meanwhile, TENNIS icons, Venus and Serena Williams say the greatest obstacle they have met in their career is the scourge of racism.
''It has been fun playing tennis, champions have come and gone, we respect everybody that had stepped on the other side of the court,'' Venus, the older of the sisters told journalists on Friday in Lagos when asked who their toughest opponent was.
''The greatest obstacle we had faced were those who at this stage caused racial uproar, we can't stand them,'' added Serena
''In polite society, you don't like the chorus of boos or the shouts of Nigger! It has happened to us before and on that occasion it was unbelievable to hear such nonsense while walking down the aisle to the players' box by the side of the court.''
The Williams' sisters added that they would grab another chance to return to Nigeria in the near future.
''The enthusiasm, the reception and the warmth are things we will like to go back home with, and we hope to be back in Nigeria anytime we are needed,'' Venus said.Share
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