‘When You Win, You’re a French Player. When You Lose, You’re Not.’

Published by
Sports Illustrated

By Andrew Gastelum France’s relationship with its diverse soccer-playing population is sometimes fraught, sometimes not. World Cup performance is a big part of the equation. Imen Houalef specifically remembers the eyes of her coach on the first day Houalef wore a hijab to tennis practice, after three years playing together. How those eyes changed. How they made her feel, at 13, like suddenly she didn’t belong. Growing up in France, tennis was Houalef’s favorite sport, “a place where I could feel my best,” she says. But soon after that encounter, she quit. The court no longer felt like a safe s…

Read More