Getting to the top of their career is the most likely thing on the minds of many players when they start out their professional tennis careers, but beyond that, they also need some (consistent) words of encouragement for them to push on.
For Divine Nweke, the young, athletic Denmark-born Nigerian tennis teenager, such words of encouragement may have come in abundance, especially after she met with the world tennis legend, Serena Williams.
The American female superstar who may have forgotten she said such anything, has since engraved some words on the marble of young Divine’s heart; the same words have kept her going on the court.
In this WEEKEND SPECIAL by Nigeria Tennis Live, we take a deep look at this 14-year-old’s tennis journey so far. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…
Being born and raised in Denmark by two Nigerian parents has certainly not taken anything away from this youngster’s connection to her roots as she is still very familiar with the activities of her parents and even knows the dad id from Mbaise Local Government are of Imo State.
“Yeah, I’ve been there before; about four times,” she began.
“I feel at home in Denmark, but I love the food, culture and weather in Nigeria. I really like Egusi soup.
“I remember the village… lots of animals were there and I really liked it out there when I visited,” the world’s 283 ranked Divine offered amid laughter.
“Why tennis? There was a tennis court at the back of our house when I was pretty young. We used to go there to grill and I really loved it. I wanted to play at four but couldn’t because they thought I was too young.
“So, I waited till I was six before being allowed to play.
“I actually did gymnastics for about a week and swimming for two months; and that’s it. Then, I preferred tennis and went for it instead,” she said after being asked why she preferred tennis to other sports.
The young girl whose middle name is Chidasaram said she was motivated to start playing tennis because “I really liked the feeling of playing the balls, it’s really fun. All the mental power of the game. I feel really at home playing tennis, and I really don’t like anything else.”
And as weird as it may seem, the Danish top U-16 player won her very first tournament a year after she started playing tennis.
According to her, her first tournament win came on the heels of consecutive losses.
“The first time I lost in the finals, I was so angry. I practiced and practiced until I was good enough to win,” she said.
Meeting With Serena Williams:
“Two players actually motivate Me; Serena Williams (of course) and Roger Federer. I like Serena’s strength and power, I’ve met her before and she’s very nice. She’s set the bar high for anyone who wants to be like her. She’s what everyone wants to be.
“We had gone to watch her play in Sweden when I was nine, and I asked her to sign my ball and she signed. She said ‘of course’, and asked me to keep going and struggling until I reached my goal.
“I’ve got a lot of hope in myself because if Serena Williams of all people could say that I should keep going, it really got me going,” Dasam said with a lot of belief
Goal in tennis
Like most tennis players, the youngster wants to be the world’s number one female tennis player, win grand slams and become role models for other players.
“I feel I’m very close but I need funding because I cannot travel without money. Even if you’re really good, without funding, you cannot become number one in the world. I also need a coach,” she offered.
“I had one before but he traveled back to Argentina because we couldn’t pay him. We paid him about N500k per month for two years.
“I need some guardian sometimes. Sometimes, I really need someone to help me.”
“I go through challenges, but I take it positively. It’s easy to motivate yourself, but it’s difficult to do that if you’re not calm,” she added, sounding quite unhappy.
“I attend a Sports School – they make it easier for me to travel. I just want to play more ITF tournaments and top the rankings.”
Nigeria or Denmark?
“If I get a sponsor, I would be willing to represent Nigeria at any junior tournament.
“One of my biggest challenges is sponsorship. I currently have Head and Diadem sponsoring me with tennis clothing and equipment, but traveling to play matches and achieve my goals is something that requires huge sponsorship,” Divine calmly and firmly told Nigeria Tennis Live.
Does Divine have a boyfriend already since some of her mates may already have?
She laughed, before replying: “I don’t think about those things. I am just focused on my tennis and I don’t want distractions.”
Wants to play more ITF tournaments and top the ranking.
Watch this video to learn more about the talented youngster: