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SportJunior Wimbledon champ has roots in Hyderabad

Junior Wimbledon champ has roots in Hyderabad

Published: 13th Jul 2021 12:06 am

Hyderabad: While last Sunday turned out to be an action-packed day beginning with the Copa America final, Novak Djokovic clinching his record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title and ending with Italy clinching the Euro trophy, there were celebrations in the Indian tennis fraternity as well.

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Samir Banerjee, a 17-year-old Indian-American, clinched the junior Wimbledon singles title by defeating his compatriot Victor Lilov in straight sets. Celebrating Samir’s achievement, many Indians took to social media to congratulate the youngster. However, he has a close affinity to the city of Hyderabad as his mother Usha hails from the land of Nizams. His father Kunal Banerjee was born in Assam.

Born in Visakhapatnam, Usha moved to Hyderabad when she was a toddler. She grew up in Tarnaka, Secunderabad and had her schooling in St Ann’s High School. She left for the US for her higher education in the 1980s where she met and married Kunal Benerjee and settled there.

Samir Banerjee with his parents Kunal and Usha.

Speaking about her connection with the city, she says, “We keep visiting the city whenever we come to India as we have our relatives there. The last time we were in Hyderabad was in 2015. Samir likes the city and he likes the food.” Usha says she was thrilled at his son’s victory and the kind of reaction it evoked back in the country. “We are very thrilled. In Roland Garros, he lost in the first round. We expected him to get into round one or two. But he started picking up from there and went on to win,” she said.

Usha also revealed that she speaks to him in Telugu at home. “Yes, I converse with him in Telugu so that he keeps in touch with the language. My mother also lives in the US and whenever she visits, they speak a bit of Telugu.” Meanwhile, Samir’s father Kunal is delighted at the response to his son’s victory. “We are humbled. It happened by God’s grace. He was unseeded in the tournament and this was unexpected. But we are happy for him. We appreciate the support from the Indian community.” Speaking about Samir’s future, Usha said, “Now, he is only going to go to college. We will see how things go next year. Right now, he doesn’t have any aspirations. But he will keep playing tennis.”

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