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South African Makes Olympic Debut With US Team

South African-born Liezel Huber has played in her first Olympic tennis tournament at the Beijing Games. As VOA's Jim Stevenson reports, Huber came to China as a member of the United States team.

Huber became a U.S. citizen just over a year ago, and is thrilled to be at the Olympics.

"I feel honored that a country has adopted me, and that I have this opportunity," said Liezel Huber.

She did not always have the opportunity to play in the Olympics. Huber is a three-time Grand Slam doubles champion. Each of those wins came with South African Cara Black. The duo reached the Number One ranking in the world just last November.

But Huber had been at odds with the South African tennis federation and was not permitted to compete at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Because Huber resides in the United States, she felt her fortunes would change by becoming a citizen. And they did.

"This is the land of opportunity," she said. "And I came to the States at age 15 with [just] a suitcase. And I applaud every American that realizes how fortunate we are as foreigners to be able to live there."

The change seemed to make sense. But Huber is constantly reminded of where she came from.

"I still get emotional," said Huber. "I have lived in the [United] States for half of my life. So it is home. Yet I am born in South Africa. I cannot lose my accent. And English is not my first language."

Paired with former world Number One Lindsay Davenport, Huber reached the quarter-final round of the women's doubles tournament in Beijing. And, at age 32, Huber could have another Olympic chance at the 2012 London Games.