Ines Ibbou, a young Algerian tennis player who hit back at Dominic Thiem for saying he did not want to give money to lowly-ranked players, has drawn support from Venus Williams as well as her country’s government.
‘Dear Dominic,’Ibbou, who is 620th in the WTA singles rankings, said in an emotional nine-minute video posted on social media, ‘what would have been my career if I was in your shoes?’
In April, Thiem, an Austrian ranked third in the men’s game, said he was not happy with a plan supported by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for top players to help those lower down the rankings who had lost their tournament income because of the coronavirus shutdown of tennis. ‘None of them are going to starve,’Thiem told an Austrian newspaper, explaining that ‘many, many’ of those players had not made it to the top because they ‘don’t put the sport above everything else’.
‘I wouldn’t really see why I should give such players money,’ he went on. ‘I would rather give money to people or organisations that really need it.’
In her response, the 21-year-old Ibbou said life was tough for an African tennis player.
‘You know that in a country like mine it’s not easy for a woman to be a high-level athlete.’ She said that Thiem grew up in a ‘magical world’ and while both his parents were tennis coaches, ‘I grew up in a very modest family with parents who had nothing to do with tennis.’
‘We don’t choose where we are born,’ she said, adding that she loved her parents and regretted that her endless travelling to tournaments meant she saw them so little.
‘I cherish the day when I’ll be able to afford a gift for my parents,’ said Ibbou, who has made $27,825 (25,754 euros) on the WTA Tour and had earned $3,135 this season before play was halted.
She said that, unlike Thiem, she could not afford a coach or entourage and always had to worry about her budget and, as an Algerian, a visa.
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