Monday, November 29, 1999

French tennis star says she is proud to be a Muslim

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London, Jun 18 (ANI): French tennis star Aravane Rezai, the 18th women's seed at Wimbledon, is proud to be a Muslim and the fact that both of her parents are Iranian.Rezai, 23, has even represented Iran at the Women's Islamic Games twice.She overcame lack of family money and initial racism from France's tennis authorities to become the country's sporting golden girl and equally, is now an inspiration for Muslim women around the world."There are a few but not too many Muslim women in sport. Sania Mirza, who is Indian, also plays tennis but I am the first from a Persian background," The Sun quoted Rezai, as saying."I am proud to represent Muslim women. I know I am a model for other girls and if I can give them power or any help to improve their life that is good. I am here and I want to show on court I am a fighter. I fight for my personal life and I fight for my tennis career. They are two things," she said."I have two passports. When I play for France people said 'she is Iranian not French'. I am proud to be half-Iranian and that is why I have a necklace from Iran around my neck at all times. Yet I play tennis for France, the country where I grew up. So many people ask me whether I prefer France or Iran . I say: do you ask a mother which son she prefers?' I love both countries," Rezai said."I have made a lot of sacrifices in my life and I feel stronger than so many other players. I have a different character. I am very strong. I like to fight on the court. It comes from my double culture."Unfortunately I am not a practising Muslim but when I have finished my tennis career, I will be," she added. (ANI)

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