Tennis in Nigeria is not half as big or popular as football. However, Marylove Edwards, a 13 year-old girl sees herself going to the top in tennis. She has already got the nickname “Nigerian Serena”, because she plays with a lot of power, an attribute Serena Williams has.
Edwards is a huge fan of Serena. In a BBC interview she said, “I love Serena, I love her style, I love the way she plays. But I’d love to be myself, just Marylove Edwards.”
Edwards is trained by her dad, a similar path Serena and Venus took with their father. Marylove’s father constantly motivates her, highlighting the benefits of playing and excelling in tennis. Both father and daughter have been working towards that goal. Edwards started playing tennis from the age four. Currently, she’s enrolled at the IMG Tennis Academy, founded by veteran tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, in Bradenton, Florida.
Late last year, Edwards won her first tournament in the U.S., USTA Celsius Level 6 girls’ 14 & Under tournament. Edwards is under the Temple Management Company (TMC). The company secured financing for Edwards to return to IMG Academy to begin a full session. Tuition fees at IMG Academy range from $55,950 to $79,950 a year.
The founder of IMG Academy, Bollettieri said of Edwards, “Now this young girl is very different: super athlete. Very handy. Only a few can get away with that style.” Serena and Venus Williams also attended IMG Academy.
Edwards participated in the CAT/ITF West and Central African Junior Championship where she won the Under 14. She is ranked first in Africa for Under 14 Girls.