I would not be doing the title of this blog justice if I did not write a little about tennis, especially during or after one of the game’s four major championships.
As the years go by in parent- and husbandhood, it’s been harder for me to devote as much time as I would like to the sport, either by getting on the tennis court or spending hours watching it on television.
But there’s nothing like a Grand Slam tournament to pull me back into thinking about the game. As a kid, I wanted to play like Connors, Evert, and Borg, have the grace of Ashe or Goolagong. Later, when I lived in Austria, I was into my German phase: Graf, Becker, Stich. Before marriage 15 years ago and parenthood eight years later, I played in a men’s singles league that was ridiculously competitive for this Quaker guy who believes that the joys of being an athlete can be found on peaceful turf. Hence, I turned to long-distance running!
So here I am, a middle-aged guy trying to relate to the recent winners of the men’s and women’s championships at the Aussie Open, both of whom have taken home more prize money and fees from endorsements than my entire vast extended family — many of us teachers or school administrators — will ever earn in the classroom. Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki are two players I will likely never meet as I did Evert, Graf, and Goolagong as a tennis reporter. Their playing styles would be difficult for me to emulate even if I had the time, unlike the hours when I was young and practiced my two-handed backhand and grew my hair long like my idol Björn Rune Borg!
So how can I relate?
Well, this quote from Wozniacki:
“As an athlete, you always want more, no matter what it is — if you win one Slam, you want two. There’s always more… At the end of the day, sometimes you have to be nice to yourself and just go, ‘You know what, this is a day-by-day process. As long as you put the effort in, that’s all you can do.’ ”
And this reporting about Federer:
“The nerves returned for the Swiss … Even after 20 grand slam titles, the tears gushing down Roger Federer’s cheeks after winning his sixth Australian Open crown on Sunday.”
Before Federer’s final, one of my best friends reminded me I have finished 21 marathons. Why yes, I guess like Wozniacki stated, I always want my body to do more, even if my legs are begging for a break. And like Federer, I often cry after a marathon because no matter how many times I complete one, I still can’t believe I’ve done it!