31st October, 2012
The Asoju Oba of Lagos, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas has revealed that American tennis sensation, Serena Williams made him cry like a baby when she lost the 2004 Wimbledon Open Women’s Singles final match to Maria Sharapova.
The Lagos businessman, Okoya-Thomas made the revelation while welcoming the Williams sisters to Nigeria during a media conference held at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos on Wednesday.
Speaking in an emotion laden voice, Okoya-Thomas said: “I welcome the tennis champions who are in Lagos with their mother, Mrs Oracene Price. However, I must tell Nigerians that this lady, Serena once made me cry despite my age.
“The day Serena lost her Wimbledon Open final match to Sharapova in London was my saddest day in life. I always watch the Williams sisters anytime they feature in international tennis championships because I like them. But I wept bitterly when she lost that particular match.
“You see, the painful aspect of the whole show was that Serena never acknowledged my cheers despite the fact that I was always there to watch her games(Serena and her sister, Venus burst into laughter).
“I don’t know why, whenever I waved to greet you Serena, you don’t wave back…(Another round of laughter).. please always wave back when next you see me at the grand slam and make me proud as you always do.”
Okoya-Thomas however extolled the virtues of the Williams sisters, and described them as worthy ambassadors of the black race in the world of tennis.
The sports philanthropist also told the tennis icons that they have numerous admirers in Africa, especially in Nigeria.
“You can’t imagine the number of fans who love you in Nigeria. I congratulate your family, especially your father, Mr Williams and your mother Mrs Oracene Price. They have worked very hard to raise you as the very best in the world. I wish you well during your stay in Nigeria,” he said.
Okoya-Thomas concluded his speech by urging the Williams sisters to win more grand slams, and used the occasion to pray for their late sister, Yetunde to rest in perfect peace.
Reacting, Serena and Venus expressed their appreciation to the tennis loving Okoya-Thomas and Nigerians as a whole for supporting them and their careers.