zVenus and Serena Williams are currently on a four-day trip to Lagos, Nigeria as part of the women's rights campaign Breaking the Mould in the hopes of inspiring women to follow their dreams. The tennis champions want women throughout the continent to feel empowered no matter what obstacles may stand in their way much like they've done since entering the professional sport.
The Breaking the Mould initiative is an African women's empowerment campaign created by Octagon and Connect Marketing Services Ltd. whose goal is to motivate women at various stages of their lives by showcasing national and international "mold breakers" who've achieved greatness in various ways. The Williams sisters story will serve as inspiration in Nigeria because their determination is what has carried them to such heights. It also helps spark interest in sports as Lagos is harboring plans to host a major sporting festival in its future.
"It will resonate with African women as a whole, who are often the champions of change and encourage more women to do the same and we are proud to implement BTM in Nigeria," said Tunji Adeyinka, managing director of Connect Marketing Services.
According to Times Live, the gender divide is especially wide in Nigeria stating that "worldwide, Nigeria ranks 118 out of 134 countries on the Gender Equality Index, a British Council study released in May said."
"We were able to break the [mold] and win a lot of grand slams and change the face of tennis ... when tennis was very dominated by white people," 31-year-old Serena said during a press conference with local media. "It doesn't matter what your background is and where you come from, if you have dreams and goals, that's all that matters."
While in Nigeria, the sisters will give tennis lessons to children, discuss empowerment with girls, and attend a fundraising dinner. They also played a match against each other in which Venus beat her sister 6-4, 7-5 on Friday, a move she hope will signal in a good year. The exhibition match and their other activities are being conducted in the hopes of showcasing the potential of dreams and the results of hard work and ambition.
"For anyone to succeed in any endeavor, one has to love what one does. Added to what our parents have done for us, the key is that we love what we do, and once you love what you do, and you’re not lacking in self-belief, the sky is the limit to what you can achieve," Venus told The Guardian Nigeria during the conference.
Serena is fresh from beating Maria Sharapova in the final of the WTA Championships in Instanbul landing her 46th WTA title to go along with 19 Grand Slam Singles titles. Venus, 32, who's in Africa for the first time, has 44 WTA titles and seven Grand Slam Singles titles.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)