June 16, 2010

Aravane Rezai

A couple weeks ago a big stir was made over Rimah Fakih's being crowned Miss USA. But I was a little surprised that no one in the Muslim blogosphere (those few of us who are left) brought up the success story of French tennis player Aravane Rezai.

I first started noticing Aravane a few months ago. Currently ranked #19 in the world (her highest ranking is #16), she is one of several Muslim tennis players playing professionally today. (Another is Sania Mirza of India.) Aravane was born in France to Iranian parents, and competed for Iran in the Women's Islamic Games, winning gold medals in 2001 and 2005.

Aravane is known for a very powerful forehand shot (she puts a lot of muscle behind the ball), and recently had the biggest win in her career at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, in which she upset Justine Henin, Jelena Janković and Venus Williams to win the clay court title. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to follow up that success in the French Open (where she lost in the third round); however, she reached the semifinals of the Aegon Classic, and has just defeated the number one-seed and last year's champion, Caroline Wozniacki, in the Aegon International (two grass court tournaments preparatory to Wimbeldon).

So, if you want to encourage Muslim girls with a better role model than a beauty queen, a tennis player like Aravane Rezai might make for a better choice, insha'allah.