Back in 1949, Ana Obarrio de Pereyra Iraola had a dream of becoming a tennis star. However, matrimony and responsibilities of the family became her priority. Her dream was unfulfilled as she dedicated the next two decades of her life to look after her ten children.
She has enjoyed every moment and never lamented it. Family for her has always been before tennis. Speaking to AFP, Obarrio recalled, “My husband didn’t like me playing mixed doubles with men… I didn’t play again after that. I don’t regret it. I would do the same again. My first joy is my children. Tennis comes next.”
But now, the 83-year-old grandmother has decided to fulfil her dream. She emerged victorious in the 80-plus category at the Argentina Senior Masters at the Hurlingham Sports Club in Buenos Aires. In the gruelling one-hour final, she prevailed over her 80-year-old rival.
After her victory, the third seed among seniors in her country, Obarrio, spoke of her passion as she said, “I like to compete. I like to win.”
Her love affair with the sport began at a very young age. And she was good as well, winning a youth championship in her country. But her career was halted after she got married at the age of 18.
In the 1940s, married women in Argentina were expected to stay at home and raise children. A career in sports for a married woman was unthinkable. Obarrio had to give up her first love.
Later on, in her 40s, when her children had grown up a little, she took to the tennis again and often played with her friends. But it was only after her husband’s death, when she was in her 60s, that she started to play competitively.
Now, even at this age, she trains three days a week at a private family court at her country estate that was built specially for her. Obarrio steps on the court wearing 1950s-style flat-soled canvas shoes and stylised shorts instead of modern gear so that she can relive the days of her youth.
“I put on my shoes and feel the ground of the court,” she said. “It gives me immense pleasure.” Her next challenge is the seniors’ world championships later in the year in Florida, USA.
To see someone competing professionally even at this age is truly inspirational and incredible.
She has proven that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.