KIGALI – Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova on Sunday arrived in Rwanda for her second leg of tour of African where she is vacationing.
The five-time grand slam champion was spotted in Kinigi in Musanze District, the home of mountain gorillas.
The 32-year-old later posted on her Instagram page and tweeted her experience hiking up the hills of Volcanoes National Park and took a selfie with Silverback gorillas.
“Rwanda! Early morning trek through the rainforest downpour to see the Silverback Gorillas,” tweeted the multiple Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) world number one, who revealed that the tour of Africa has given her firsthand experience with wildlife from her previous of only meeting a squirrel.
On Instagram, she posted: “Rwanda??! Silverbacks! We have fallen in love with your country. Truly! Early morning treks to locate the gorillas, getting caught in a rainforest downpour, witnessing a silverback big daddy of all big daddies walk right past us without a care in the world (thankfully!!)… so special!”
Sharapova started her tour in Botswana last week where she later said she got dangerously close to a pride of lions, revealing she was impressed by their roaring which “pierced through the entire delta.”
“Botswana, Africa! Love at first sight!” Sharapova wrote on her Instagram page. “The closest I’ve ever come to a safari was locking eyes with a squirrel. But not anymore! The lion’s roaring in the video? That was within 30mins of our first game drive overlooking the sunset at Vumbura Plains.”
Sharapova’s vacation is private, Sunny Ntayombya, the spokesperson of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said.
Rwanda has prioritised tourism as a major forex earner has been hugely engaged in enticing global celebrities into the country. Through RDB, the central African country sponsors the English Premier League side Arsenal’s shirt sleeves and gains its share of marketing at Emirate Stadium as well as all Arsenal’s official products.
However, while global personalities like Ellen Degeneres and Arsenal and Brazilian defender David Luiz have been brought in by RDB, Pova’s private vacation falls within the kind American rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian enjoyed in Uganda last year.
Ntayombwa said they were not aware of any programme Pova might be having of meeting with President Kagame due to the nature of her visit. Kanye and Kardashian were invited to State House and eventually met with President Museveni and his family.