Belarus: I taught champ tennis, says president

Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, has claimed that he personally put the country's tennis star, Victoria Azarenka, on the road to glory.

Speaking on a visit to a tennis centre in Minsk, the president recalled how the then eight-year-old Azarenka watched him practise his shots when they trained on the same court. According to Belarusian television, the future Grand Slam winner was very fond of him as a player, and nagged her coach to "show me the president play tennis". Sporting a tracksuit in the colours of the national flag, Lukashenko said: "Azarenka and I started playing tennis together... She was this little. But she learnt to play."

Lukashenko is no stranger to unusual public announcements. In July, he responded to photographs of a combat gear-clad Vladimir Putin holding a 46-pound pike by saying the he had recently caught a catfish weighing 126 pounds from a river in the south of the country. Unfortunately for Mr Lukashenko, there was no photographic evidence to back up his fisherman's tale.

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