Mayar Sherif’s Olympic-sized Dreams

In an interview with Majalla, the Egyptian Tennis Player Says She Hopes to Become Among the Top 100 Players in the World

Mayar Sherif made history in September by becoming the first-ever Egyptian female tennis player to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.  Sherif, who was making her Grand Slam main draw debut in the Roland-Garros Series, one of the tennis world’s major Grand Slams, flew through qualifying without dropping a set en route to the biggest match of her life against second-seed Karolina Pliskova on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The 24-year-old continued her fine run by surprising her opponent to win the opening set in an epic tie-break before eventually going down 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 o, but her performances have captured the imagination of the country of her birth. Egyptians took to social media to celebrate the player known as “Egypt’s Golden Star,” who became the first Egyptian woman to win a Grand Slam match. 
Sherif was born on 5 May 1996 in Cairo and studied at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, graduating in 2018 with a BS in Sports Medicine. She was part of the university's women's tennis team, playing for the Waves. Upon graduation, she reached out to Justo Gonzalez, a Spanish coach she had worked with seven years ago during a short stint of training in Alicante. Sherif was ranked in the top-50 of the ITF World Junior rankings as a teenager, and Gonzalez has believed in her ever since.
That confidence was seriously tested when Sherif went to Rabat to contest the African Games. A gold medal in singles would secure her a spot at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, provided she is ranked in the top-300 on June 8, 2020. She suffered an infection and played the whole tournament on antibiotics, but walked away with yet another piece of history, as Egypt’s first ever tennis player – alongside Mohamed Safwat – to qualify for an Olympic Games. 
Sherif was kind enough to take some time out of her today for this interview.
Q - Did you expect this reception in Egypt after qualifying for the Roland Garros Main Draw?
I did not expect it. I felt that the Egyptian people were watching the tournament very closely, the assistant minister Sports welcomed me at the airport and the minister himself Dr. Ashraf Sobhi personally honoured me.
Q - What does this honour and reception represent to you?
It represents a new challenge for me. It is immense and unlimited psychological support. I live up to this love and responsibility. It is a wonderful to feel that your efforts were not in vain. I aim to go even further in the 
Q -  Is this difficult to achieve in the Grand Slam Tennis Tournaments?
Yes, but you should never stop dreaming and having ambitions. You should always give your all in training and focus on achieving them.
Q - What are your ambitions?
I want to be among the global tennis rankings and go far in the Grand Slam tournaments and why shouldn’t I dream to win them? Besides succeeding in the next Olympic Games, my primary goal is to become among the top 100 tennis players in the world, and I’m setting my sights even higher by dreaming of a Roland Garros win.
Q - Has the postponement of the Olympic games worked in your favour?
I don’t consider it in this way. The postponement came because of a dangerous global virus that we are all suffering from. I wish everyone remains safe, and we do not know what the situation will be next June.
Q - What does Mohamed Salah's support mean to you?
It is an extraordinary thing to find a player of his status to support you, even in the form of a tweet. Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian icon who has transcended boundaries and became one of the top three most important players in the world. He is a role model for challenging and proving yourself. I look to his achievements as an exemplar of how one can reach beyond their dreams.
Q – What is next for you?
I will be travelling to Spain in a few days where I will begin a training camp while I await the agenda of the upcoming tournaments to be announced.
Q – Who is your role model? 
I hope one day I can match the achievements of Belgian tennis legend Kim Clijsters?