M. Sherif, an Egyptian tennis player, travelled to Morocco this past summer with one objective in mind: to win the African Games singles tennis gold medal and therefore qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
M. Sherif Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
M. Sherif, who was ranked at about No. 250 at the time, was widely considered the favourite to win the African championship. As the first Egyptian tennis player to compete at the Olympics, M. Sherif knew he was making history if he won the gold medal.
After a week, M. Sherif and her compatriot Mohamed Safwat had won their respective singles championships, making them the first Egyptian tennis players to qualify for the Olympics. They will fly to Tokyo this summer to compete (given they maintain a top-300 ranking and good standing with their federation).
After hearing that the Olympics will not be held last year due to the epidemic, thousands of athletes all around the world were left feeling sad with their hopes for the future put on hold.
An Additional Year of Freedom was a Huge Relief For M. Sherif.
After four years of college tennis in the United States, she turned pro in 2019, spending the year competing at the lower levels of the tour. Even though she had a successful first year on the ITF circuit (winning over 70 matches), competing against top-50 players at the Olympics is an entirely different ballgame.
In 2020, M. Sherif qualified for her first WTA competition in Prague, and later became the first Egyptian woman to earn a main draw berth at a Grand Slam tournament by playing heroically in the qualifying rounds at Roland Garros. She gave world No. 4 Karolina Pliskova a tough match in the first round of the French Open, taking the match to three sets before ultimately losing.
M. Sherif, now 24 years old, qualified for the Australian Open after winning a $100,000 tournament in Charleston at the end of 2020.
“I’m doing everything I can to get to the best level possible before the Olympics,” M. Sherif said.
The Olympics being moved back a year actually worked out well for me. A year ago, I was a very different player than I am now.
A Year Would Bring Me a lot of Benefits.
I hope to make the most of the next six months in preparation for the Olympics, where winning a medal would be the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition.
The Cairene demonstrated what it means to make the best of a difficult circumstance last year. The coronavirus brought civilization to a grinding standstill, but M. Sherif persevered.
She remarked, “The Covid period allowed me to concentrate on myself so much, physically and technically.” No way would you have had so much time to develop such a complex idea. In any case, I put that time to good use, but the outcomes didn’t appear for quite some time.