Though I try not to take sides in sports, sometimes one has to give-in! Sub-consciously, I wanted, even willing, Kim Clijsters to win the Australian Open Women’s finals. While younger, I used to go by emotions, but this time I had clear, logical reasons even! Her being a mother is the utmost of them and she looks just like the girl next door, not only in Western countries, but also anywhere else, behavior- wise! There is something in her demeanor that is humble, and even in the way she goes about her job on the courts as she sizes up the opponents and slowly overpowers them through experience and pure talent. No brute force, but tactics and fair play. I recall the US Open final 2009 when her opponent was spitting fire at the harried lineswoman. She was called “Aussie Kim” after her romance with Lleyton Hewitt which did not lead to marriage, but she herself has accepted that label now!
I am following Tennis since 1963 when American Chuck McKinley won the Wimbledon. It was dominated then by Australians. And I felt a tinge of sadness when McKinley passed away at a young age. Similarly, another of my favorite, Arthur Ashe also left the world untimely. Later, I was put off by some brash players, like Connors, McEnroe (Mac in Row?) and “winning ugly” fame, Brad Gilbert. Later, we had a rather dour Sampras but with a classic game and who can forget his rivalry with Andre Agassi? After retirement, Agassi revealed that Sampras was a put-off for him! But, I suspected that all along! Also, his admitting to some indiscretion with medication!! Courier and Sampras started off as best of friends but couldn’t sustain that for long as they rose in rankings!
Now, we have a friendly atmosphere at the top, but fierce rivalry on the courts. Federer and Nadal, arguably the best two of all time, look like best of chums, bantering about. Who can forget Djokovic, the newly minted Aussie open champion? He believes the former two are still above the rest! Of course, we had some sweet Swedes, Borg, Wilander and Edberg, who showed little emotion on and off courts. But they did win many trophies and rose to the very top.
Women’s tennis has another ingredient added to talent and hard play; glamour! Who can forget Gabriela Sabatini, Anna Kournikova and the present Maria Sharapova? Of course, the William sisters bull-dozed the opposition through sheer power and athleticism, but they seem to be on the way out! Lindsay Davenport couldn’t sustain her reign at the top after becoming a mother and there is a clear void at the top in American presence, except in the doubles with Brian brothers winning them all! Andy Roddick has admitted that it was tough for him to fight a lonely battle!
The inspiration for this piece is Kim Clijsters who keeps me interested in women’s tennis; I am not much into the glamour factor, which sometimes takes precedence! Her presence will be a boon to any aspiring player, winning through hard work and touching the hearts of many; win or lose. Even the vociferous Chinese who shouted “finish her off”, as she played Li Na in the finals, stayed behind to pray, as it were, when Clijsters received the trophy; and they left with a heart and reassurance that could not be a more worthy winner!
These moments reassure us that the world is still worth living and fairness prevails mostly, despite our getting distracted by emotions. As said earlier, I try not to take sides but certain people are irresistible and inspirational by the way they carry on with life. When they win, we also get a spring in our walks that even acts as a balm during our troubling times, giving us hope that all is not lost, yet! It is a cut throat, man-eat-man world in the sporting arena with the greed factor ruling the roost! One need only look at football leagues, where players join opposing teams to the shock of their fans, who will never forsake theirs like Manchester United or Liverpool. Let us hope and pray that there are many more moments to make sports unite us and make us feel there are no losers and only deserving winners! The paying public that sustains the sports should get their money’s worth, not only through fierce competitions but also feel exalted by exemplary behavior both on and off courts. Clijsters and Djokovic are indeed worthy champions in every way. Let us savor the moments