What is it like to be on top of your game for so long that the people who grew up watching you are now playing you? When does that happen? I’ve seen it happen with educators. The ones that love it stay and sometimes they actually get to teach the children of their former students. But this is not a natural occurrence in sports. It’s not a thing. And yet, that is what Serena Williams has given to us – a new view. What does it look like when those that grew up with you earmarked as their idol, their “I wanna be like” person, now face you head on, planning and expecting to win. Needless to state, that is special.
Serena Williams’ contribution to sports is in the books. If you want a list of all that she has accomplished, read this article and then you will know why many rightfully call her the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).
While she is a model for sustained excellence, she is also teaching us grace as you grow. So many of us want her to go on forever, but that is not realistic. Nobody can. It will end, whether this year or a few from now. She is showing how to remain graceful under the lights and the twilight of her playing career. We are watching her shoulder the pressure of breaking a record before she retires. If I am honest, she has so many records, why are we putting so much weight on this one? We get to watch her process in the spotlight what the rest of us get to do in private. Am I done? Do I have another one in me? What will the fans say if I leave before I break the record? How will I feel if I don’t? What If I stay too long and am no longer competitive? I imagine her processing a ton of questions. Her tears at the press conference following her loss at the Australian Open were so honest. She for sure has had some heartbreaking losses in her career. This one felt a little different. Her exit from the court as she waved her hands and placed them over her heart told us yet another story, we are all left to interpret.
This is Women’s History Month. Few have made history like Serena. Serena, please know we have loved watching you dominate professional tennis since 1995. We loved watching you work to beat Venus and being upset when you didn’t. We loved seeing you come into your own and dominate like no other. We have loved knowing with a fair amount of certainty that you would be in the finals. It was just a matter of who you would be beating in two sets. We have loved how you have endured the certain slights, insults and racism along with the way without sustained complaint. You did us one better and just won anyway.
Whenever you decide to stop playing tennis, we will celebrate all that you have accomplished. We, your fans, could not and would not ask for another thing as you truly have left it on the court so many times. And thank you for showing us that it is possible to stay in the game long enough for those that identified you as an idol can become a competitor. We are with you now and later with whatever follows.
Your theme song is “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston.