One of my most faithful and astute readers of this blog, my extremely patient husband, gives me wonderful feedback about my posts and just about everything else in my life. It’s no wonder that when he tutors at night and I’m with our daughter, she excitedly talks about his return home!
I checked in briefly with Dr. Ben on his thoughts about yesterday’s post about the former tennis champion Ilie Nastase. He told me that in addition to not knowing who Ilie is, he also had not kept up with Nastase’s nasty and inappropriate remarks about Serena Williams, her unborn child, Johanna Konta, and others.
Ben was right. Ilie’s prime as a player was before my time, and I’m a lifelong tennis fan, so for readers not as familiar with the sport and its history, I understand my post was less accessible than some themes I’ve explored in relation to tennis, Trisomy 21, or, as a village of readers and writers, sharing our thoughts about life with each other!
Which brings me back to the post from two days ago written about Maria Sharapova’s return to the women’s professional tour after a doping ban.
Maria is a star who transcends her sport, much more so than Ilie ever did. She also has won more major titles, and although born in Russia, could easily pass for an American, perhaps a reason why many American companies pay her millions to endorse their products.
Yesterday, another top player whom companies love, Eugenie Bouchard, said that Maria should never have been allowed to compete in her sport again because she is a cheater. That’s a pretty strong statement!
Eugenie, younger than Maria but with a playing style and even appearance that is very close to Maria’s, said the women’s tour has sent the wrong message to fans, including to kids following the game: cheat and you will be welcomed back with open arms.
As I’ve looked at the world this week through the lens of tennis with the French Open approaching, I’ve wondered why I was very decisive in suggesting Ilie be banned from the International Tennis Hall of Fame and not as firm in my opinion — like Eugenie — about Maria.
This morning I woke up knowing why.
Ilie tormented fellow players, linespeople and umpires who often worked for free at tournaments he played, for decades. At 70, his recent displays show that age has not granted him a lot of wisdom and remorse.
Maria is still only 30, and she was caught so far just once. Give her a second chance. We all deserve one in life. Even if Maria is stunningly rich and successful, she is like the rest of us who have stumbled but is trying to learn from falling down. She could still be a role model. By all indications, it appears she tried to stretch boundaries to her advantage. Unlike Ilie, though, she has shown decency in trying to get back on track.