2020 sports yearender: Tennis star Mayar Sherif steals the show after Grand Slam achievement

Ahram Online , Thursday 31 Dec 2020

Mayar Sherif delivered a rare tennis achievement for Egypt by appearing in the French Open main draw

Mayar Sherif

Mayar Sherif rose to fame with a stunning outcome at the French Open, becoming the first Egyptian female to feature in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament in a rare tennis achievement for the country.

The 24-year-old, who was little known in her homeland, overcame three qualifying contests to reach the main draw of the French Open in September, putting Egypt on the tennis map.

She overcame Colombian teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of the qualifying before defeating American Caty McNally in the second round.

Sherif then beat Italian Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and 19 minutes to reach the main draw, where she came up against former world number one Karolina Pliskova.

A defeat against the second-seeded Czech seemed a forgone conclusion but Sherif put up a brave fight.

The Egyptian won the first set before losing 6-7(9) 6-2 6-4 in a hard-fought contest that lasted two hours and 15 minutes.

"I don't think I played my best. I think I could have done so many things much better," Sherif said after the game.

"But you know what? I'm out of here very positive, very excited to work harder, because I saw what the level is and I saw not playing my best how close I was to beating one of the best players in the world. So just keep working harder.

"I still have such a huge margin to improve so that gives me more advantage, gives me more motivation. And I can't wait to get back on the court and practice and work harder, to get back and play at this level."

Sherif, who grew up in Cairo, is only the second Arab to break into the top 200 of the world ranking, joining Tunisian Ons Jabeur.

She is adamant that she can replicate that achievement and even go one better.

"I was enjoying it. I loved being out there," she added. "This is really it. I felt like this is where I belong, on the big stadiums with attention, all the people out there. I felt great. I would love to play on one of those courts again.

"I'm sure I will be back to play on them."

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