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Chasing The Grand Slam With Kevin Anderson




Kevin Anderson had the biggest match of his career in the recent Wimbledon final, becoming the first male player to feature in the decider under the South African flag since 1921.
With over $13 million in career prize-money, he speaks to FORBES AFRICA about new goals.

South African Kevin Anderson’s run to the 2018 Wimbledon final cemented his reputation as one of the leading players in the game today as he produced a shot that reverberated around the world of tennis.

Deep into his remarkable five-set semi-final with American John Isner, Anderson conjured a moment that will be remembered at Wimbledon for years to come and embodied all you need to know about the lanky star as a person and a player.

The weary 32-year-old was knocked off his feet by a power serve from Isner, his racquet falling from his hand as he fell onto his backside.

But as the ball came back to him, he instinctively reached down and grabbed the racquet with his weaker left hand, produced an excellent forehand and won the point – a moment that appeared to knock the last bit of fight out of his opponent as Anderson claimed the fifth set 26-24 in the second longest singles match in tennis history.

Anderson had shown calmness under pressure, the ability to adapt when the moment seemed lost and the skill to make the shot with his weak hand.

“Tennis can take you places you might never have dreamed of. I am the living proof of that.”

It was all the culmination of hard work put in years earlier to get him to that point and would earn him the biggest match of his career in the Wimbledon final, the first male player to feature in the decider under the South African flag since 1921.

“My Mom and dad both played tennis and ever since I can remember, I had a racquet in my hand,” Anderson tells FORBES AFRICA days after his final loss to Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic.

“I used to play swing-ball with my brother Greg for hours and hours.”

Anderson and his brother were coached in their early years by their father Mark, who always demanded his sons gave their all on the court.

“He would push us pretty hard to keep on working and improving, but at the same time, I really embraced it. I can’t ever remember wishing that I was doing anything else than playing tennis. I loved the game as an eight-year-old and still do.

“There is just something about the game that appeals to me and I have always been a hard-worker, that aspect comes quite naturally. From a young age, you find out that the more time you spend practicing, the better you become.

“By the time I was 10, tennis was my main sport and I was already fully-focused on the game, training probably three hours every day and traveling all over South Africa to play in junior tournaments.”

Fast forward 22-odd years and that hard work would pay off in a big way for Anderson against Isner.

“I had elbow surgery at a pretty young age and instead of resting for three or four months, my father made me play left-handed. It was tough, but I would never have thought then all of that practice would help me into a Wimbledon final.”

Anderson admired former American great Pete Sampras growing up, although he admits they are nothing alike.

READ MORE: Top Sport Stars In 2018

“He was my role model, our games are totally different but I could admire even then his commitment to excellence.”

After completing his schooling at St Stithians College in Johannesburg, whose other notable alumni include Academy Award-winning director Gavin Hood, singer Dave Matthews and current South Africa cricketer Kagiso Rabada, Anderson won a scholarship to the University of Illinois in the United States.

“I knew I wanted to have a pro-tennis career and so it made sense early on to base myself in the United States, because it was so much cheaper to travel to tournaments than from South Africa.

“I also thought I could develop quicker in the college system as you have exposure to better players than you would face back home,” Anderson says, adding he was a regular competitor with Isner while the pair were in college.

It was also at college that he met his wife, Kelsey O’Neal, who he married in 2011. The couple share a home in Delray Beach, Florida.

He now has over $13 million in career prize-money and a career-best top-five ranking, but above all says he also has a burning desire to be an inspiration to others.

“Tennis is an individual sport, so sometimes it is tough to find that connection [with young people]. But I feel like one of the big impacts I can make in South Africa is as an inspiration to show what is possible. With hard work, dedication and drive, tennis can take you places you might never have dreamed of. I am the living proof of that.”

Anderson will now hope to go one better than his loss in the final of the US Open in 2017, also to Djokovic, when he plays the final Grand Slam of the season in August and September, and his Wimbledon adventure has given him the confidence to believe he can do so.

“That is two Grand Slam finals in a year now and although I did not win either, it feels like it is really close,” he says.

“I know I can do it and it is now about setting new goals and challenges for myself.

“I want to keep on playing for as long as I can. I feel like I can still improve a lot as a player and that is my goal for the immediate future. I am as hungry as I’ve ever been.”

– Nick Said


The Cab Driver, Coach And The Cup



It has been 22 years since he led South Africa to glory in the African Cup of Nations. In a new book, Clive Barker recounts his career as a salesman by day and taxi driver by night, and to FORBES AFRICA, that he is not done with the future of African football.


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The New No. 6 Role Model In Rugby




Siya Kolisi’s elevation to the captaincy of the South African national rugby side drew global interest for what it symbolized but he admits it has been a tough road to earn his place as arguably the most iconic player in the country.

Kolisi comes from a poor Eastern Cape background and having faced a number of tests of his own strength and perseverance, has risen to be among the most inspirational sportsmen in South Africa.

The importance of having a first black captain of the Springboks, which during apartheid was seen as the preserve of the white minority and the political power they yielded, cannot be understated and as such Kolisi has been fielding interviews from around the globe, including American network HBO, with the United States certainly not a traditional market for rugby content.

It is perhaps hard for younger generations to understand why Kolisi being handed the role – and wearing the same number six jersey that Francois Pienaar and former South African president Nelson Mandela at the 1995 World Cup final – is such an important moment for South African rugby, but it is all about making the game more inclusive to all races.

Anecdotal evidence of South Africans who had never watched a rugby match before rushing home to be in front of their television sets for Kolisi’s first test leading the side against England at Ellis Park on June 9 were plentiful.

Suddenly, there is a role model, an individual that many black South Africans can identify with, leading the team against another major rugby power.

Siya Kolisi of the Springboks during the Castle Lager Incoming Series 1st Test between South Africa and France at Loftus Versfeld Pretoria, South Africa. Photo via Getty Images

But Kolisi admits that it needed a stern few words from Stormers coach Robbie Fleck in 2016 to push him in the right direction after making little impact in the early part of his career as he battled with the demands placed on a professional rugby player.

“I had a conversation with the coach and he told me I had to grow up, basically,” Kolisi tells FORBES AFRICA. “Since that day, I haven’t looked back. It’s not been easy, it’s been tough. I won’t lie, I had to mature a lot.

“Obviously now, I’m a leader at home as well, I have got kids that I must be a role model for. I had to change a lot of my ways.”

Kolisi was raised by his grandmother in the Zwide township near the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, but his sporting prowess earned him a scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School and changed his fortunes.

“I’m grateful to her, because she did everything she could to give me a life. She would go without food so that I could eat,” he said recently at a press conference.

“I couldn’t speak a word of English when I first attended Grey High, but my mates taught me and helped me with homework.

“Obviously, coming from the township and not having a lot, and coming to Grey, your dreams start becoming much bigger because you have so much. You have everything you need to be whatever you want to be.

“I started dreaming big. When I was in the township, to think that I would be here, you don’t dream like that. That’s my dream one day, to change that mentality [for others].”

Kolisi was snapped up by the Western Province Rugby Union in 2010, lured to Cape Town by their then coach Rassie Erasmus, who is now in charge of the Springboks.

READ MORE: Springbok Women Step It Up For Big Game

He was handed the captaincy of the Stormers at the start of 2017, but there were still some murmurs of discontent from skeptical sections of the public when he was given the reins of the Springboks in June, with critics saying it was a political appointment to appease the South African government and deliver transformation targets for South African rugby.

“I can’t control what other people think of me, I can only control what I can do on the field,” Kolisi says.

“I think it is a genuine appointment by coach Rassie because he is not that kind of a person. I have known him since I was 18 years old. We sat down and he was straightforward with me and that is how it is. You always know where you stand with him.

“Coach Rassie is not a politician and neither am I. I am a rugby player and all I want to do is to play well and inspire South Africans of all races.

“I know how much of a big deal this thing is for the country and it is a great thing for me to be a role-model. As a Springbok, it is not only about rugby, it’s the things you do off the field.”

Kolisi’s first series in charge ended in a 2-1 home success over England and with a World Cup in Japan looming next year, he could be selected to lead the side at that global showpiece tournament.

But with other players who were previously named as captain ahead of him returning from injury, such as loose-forward Warren Whiteley and lock Eben Etzebeth, the ball will be in Erasmus’ court to see if he will stick with his historic appointment.

– By Nick Said

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The First Lady Of Skeleton




Simidele Adeagbo, the first Nigerian Winter Olympian at PyeongChang 2018 and the first African and black female skeleton racer at the games, is using the sport to uplift other young women.


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