One of my best friends is a former editor of a major tennis publication. I used to be a tennis reporter. We both grew up loving the game and its history. Put us alone in a room, and we can talk for hours about matches played decades ago.
So yesterday, a few minutes after the US Open women’s final, my friend who lives in New York and soon will move to China called me in Honolulu where I was on the treadmill at the Y watching the match and squeezing in exercise while my daughter was in her hula class. In the ’80s and even ’90s, Robin and I would have had to negotiate long in advance this kind of conversation about the last Grand Slam singles match of the year for the women.
Truth be told, the final was not too exciting. Robin and I both agreed that Sloane Stephens rose to the occasion while Madison Keys appeared frozen about the prospect of winning her first major title.
Both young women had returned to the tour only recently from major injuries and surgeries, so to have gone this far in the US Open was for either world-class player an unexpected dream.
Sloane spoke about dreams in her trophy acceptance speech: “Parents, never give up on your kids” while acknowledging all the sacrifices her mother, a star swimmer at Boston University, had made to give her daughter opportunities to dream about holding a major championship trophy some day.
“I think parents don’t get enough credit. When I was 11 years old, my mom took me to a tennis academy. One of the directors there told my mom that I’d be lucky if I was a Division II player and I got a scholarship.”
I could write on about being underestimated many times in my life, but this post isn’t about me. It’s about Sloane, her message about parents that we can never hear enough, and a reminder about why I wake up every day: to give my daughter every opportunity I can. I will never, not for one second, let someone else decide her limits. She has already surpassed predictions. Like Sloane and Madison, she will help pave the way for the world to be more inclusive, welcoming of diversity, and for life to be lived on a more level playing field.