Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo on Sunday said the former professional tennis player Tanya Okpala is now in the custody of his government following a disturbing video of her which has gone viral on social media.
A video of Okpala having a chat with an unidentified man on the streets of Awka, Anambra State first surfaced on social media on Saturday.
Okpala represented Nigeria in tennis during the 1990s. She was born by a Belarusian woman and a Nigerian man. Okpala is said to have practised as an immigration lawyer in the United States for some time.
During the conversation in the video, the ex-tennis star, seemingly nursing a wound on her left leg, said she could not believe her country had forgotten her.
Okpala said she has been labelled a prostitute by people in the area.
She, however, appealed for help, saying that she was planning to return to her village to care for her daughter.
She said, “I was a former lawn tennis champion in Nigeria. I don’t know if you are familiar with Tanya Okpala and Jacqueline Okwueze during those days. I played tennis for Nigeria and Africa.”
Tanya Okpala and her sister Katya Okpala both represented Nigeria in tennis in the 1990s.
It breaks my heart to see a former Nigerian Tennis Champion in the street like this💔 pic.twitter.com/f5g5XnvHXH
— Chude Nnamdi (@chude__) January 28, 2024
When asked about her health condition, she said, “I think if somebody is very mentally sick, I don’t think it is my business how the person is taking care of himself or herself.”
In a tweet, Soludo said his wife spoke with Okpala on the phone. He also assured the former athlete would be rehabilitated.
“Tanya Okpala (Fmr Tennis champion) is now in the custody of the Anambra State Government. She was with the Commissioner of Women Affairs when my wife spoke with her on the phone. My government will ensure her rehabilitation and fruitful reunion with her daughter and family,” he wrote.