First Arab Muslim woman to officiate at Wimbledon 2015

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SHAFAQNA - Kuwaiti line umpire, Aseel Shaheen, has become the first Arab woman to officiate at Wimbledon.

The 41-year-old is among 350 men and women officiating at Wimbledon 2015. The majority of umpires and line judges at the championships are British, but around 60 are invited to take part from overseas.

Shaheen, who became a line judge after enrolling on a course in 2002 admitted that even though she didn’t a lot about tennis before enrolling for the course she finished third in her class.

“I kept going. It became a challenge for me because they would always nominate the guys and ignore me,” she said.

“I told them I wanted to be an international umpire, I have the qualification and I have the language skills, because I speak good English. So I went to officiating school,” she added.

When asked about how she feels about being the only Arab female on the courts she said, told Sport360° earlier this week, ”It’s an indescribable feeling being here, it’s something big, it’s a challenge.”

Further, Shaheen revealed she was concerned she may not be welcomed at the championship because she covers her head. But she added the All England Club ‘really accepted’ her.“My wearing the hijab and working on court during a tennis match at Wimbledon is a sign that the world is starting to accept us more.” She went on to say.

The only drawback she said would be that line judges often receive icy stares and harsh words by the players who disagree with their decisions which can be prickly.

However, she said Hawk-Eye technology on several courts has made their job less stressful but they still need to be wary of naughty serves and often charm the crowd with their timely and graceful escapes.

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