Burundian makes history at Wimbledon

A 16-year-old boy from Burundi has been making history at Wimbledon, becoming the first player from the East African country to participate in the world-famous tennis championships.

Hassan Ndayishimiye was in tears on court after making his Wimbledon debut, overcome with the occasion and his historic achievement.

Born in Bujumbura, the capital and main port of the landlocked republic on Lake Tanganyika, Ndayishimiye is the son of a tennis coach and started playing at the age of five.

“He’s one of the most promising juniors from Africa, especially that part of Africa,” said Isabelle Gemmel, administrator of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) juniors department.

“It’s a fantastic thing for his country and a big deal for the national association,” she said.

Ndayishimiye has received support from the Grand Slam Development Fund, established by the ITF in 1986, which helps increase opportunities for talented junior players from developing nations.

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, the French Open girls’ champion, has also come through the scheme.

Funded by the four tennis majors, the scheme pays for the ITF-Grand Slam Touring Team, which Ndayishimiye is a part of.

He was also among a 14-strong group which attended the ITF’s Anglophone African Training Centre in Pretoria last year, which uses the University of Pretoria’s facilities.

Ndayishimiye trained alongside players from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Madagascar, Ghana, Namibia, South Africa and Kenya.

At the ITF’s request, the All England Club gave him a wildcard into the Wimbledon qualifying tournament and Ndayishimiye proved his worth, winning the two matches required to reach the main draw.

Ranked 112 in the world juniors, Ndayishimie made it through his first round match against Chile’s Matias Sborowitz, ranked 25, 6-4, 6-4.

“He was in tears afterwards, overwhelmed with being there and having won,” Gemmel said.

However, he lost Tuesday’s second round match to world number 48 Frederico Ferreira Silva of Portugal, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a tight encounter on Court 15, one of the outside courts wedged between Centre Court and Court 1.

Ndayishimiye has every chance of becoming a top African player. There are no black Africans in the top 250. Indeed, the only African players among the men’s top 250 are a handful of white South Africans.

Former Grand Slam touring team members include Olympic gold medallist Nicolas Massu, French Open winners Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil and world number four Li Na of China, plus world number five Victoria Azarenka. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Robin Millard
Guest Author

Related stories

Sharapova ends a career that was stuff of Hollywood

The Russian shot to international fame as a giggly 17-year-old Wimbledon winner in 2004, the third youngest player to conquer the All England Club’s famous grass courts

Final hours of voting in race to become British PM

The result will be announced on Tuesday

‘Stars align’ as Federer seeks to break Djokovic spell in Wimbledon final

Whoever emerges as champion on Sunday, it will yet again confirm the dominance of the 'Big Three' of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal

Federer, Nadal braced for Wimbledon epic

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battle for a place in the Wimbledon final on Friday

Serena wary of Riske factor at Wimbledon

The 37-year-old seven-time champion is moving into something resembling her best form after an unconvincing first week

A walkabout at Wimbledon

Poorer fans watch screens on Murray Mount and the posh mingle with stars in Rosewater Pavilion

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

‘We struggle for water, but power stations and coal mines...

A proposed pipeline will bring water polluted with Gauteng’s sewage to the Waterberg in Limpopo to boost the coal industry during the climate crisis

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Football legend Maradona dies

The Argentinian icon died at his home on Wednesday, two weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain

Covid vaccines: Hope balanced with caution

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…