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Humility is true victory

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Avatar for zolabundance2
Written by   124
2 months ago
Topics: Sports, Thoughts, Reality

Aside from synchronized swimming (now called artistic swimming in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) and figure skating, tennis is one sport I enjoy as a spectator.

But since televised events for the first two sports are few and far between, it is tennis that I get to see regularly, especially Grand Slam tournaments.

For non-tennis fans, the Australian Open, French Open (Roland Garros), Wimbledon Championships, and the US Open make up the Grand Slam events. While there are many other tournaments played all-year round, to win any of these four is what every tennis player aspires for.

It is Wimbledon of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club that pioneered tennis tournaments, and while the three other events have become equally prestigious over time, it is still the tournament played on grass that is the ultimate championship.

Several players, both men and women, have achieved feats of winning one Slam multiple times, and even more astounding, winning all four slams more than once.

And while in recent years it's become rare for anyone to win more than one or two slams in a calendar year, it has been achieved in the past.

To win all four grand slams in one year is a dream, but rarely been accomplished. And when it's an Olympic year, like it is now (well it was supposed to be last year) there is another win that's equally important.

Tennis is among the sports disciplines being contested in Tokyo. And the professional tennis players are tapped to represent their respective countries.

Win an Olympic gold and it's almost like winning a Slam, except that you're not just playing for yourself, but for country as well.

If by some stroke of luck you happen to win all four Grand Slams and snag a gold medal in the Olympics, the player is said to have completed the "Golden Slam," a really impressive feat.

Steffi Graf in action (Photo: Small Steps Project)

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To date, only one player has ever achieved this rare feat - the German tennis superstar, Steffi Graf in 1988.

Graf, one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time, has captured a total of 22 Grand Slams in her career, winning all slams at least four times.

Why is winning all four tournaments such a triumph and a dream? Every slam is played on a different surface. Wimbledon, the grandfather of all tennis slams is on grass; Roland Garros is on clay, while the Australian and US Opens are on hard courts.

While the latter two are similar surfaces, there is still a difference in terms of speed with which the balls rebound. So, while a player may win several times in Australia, it does not guarantee success at the US Open.

Typically, someone adept on grass will not be as excellent on clay because they are totally opposite surfaces. The balls are fastest on grass and slowest on clay.

So, Graf distinguished herself by being both competent in grass and clay, although she's won more on Wimbledon (7) than in the French Open (6). But adjusting to very different surfaces in a span of four weeks is awesome in itself but can also take its toll on the knees and be a cause for injuries.

After 17 years as a professional tennis player, Graf retired in 1999, the same year she won her last Grand Slam title in Roland Garros in a most enjoyable finals game against the much younger Martina Hingis.

In spite her many accomplishments in the sport, life after retirement is totally removed from tennis. However, she did marry fellow tennis superstar Andre Agassi, with whom she has two grown children.

In all the years that I've followed her career, I've never heard Graf obsess about winning or setting records. She just played her best and displayed excellence on court.

Which is why it rankles that Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic was so focused on reaching that goal of completing the rare Golden Slam this year.

Yes, since he's already won the first three slams (Australian, French and Wimbledon) this year, he was the only player with the fighting chance to achieve that. Win the US Open and he would make history.

But then with the Olympics moved from 2020 to 2021, he set his sights on an even bigger achievement - a Golden Slam.

Rarely do I hear other players, even the best like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, ever talk of breaking records or making history in the way Djokovic has.

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Already, he has equaled the records of Federer and Nadal of 20 Grand Slams won, but he's become more obsessed with setting records. To me, it speaks of pride and arrogance.

Champions like Roger and Rafa, and those before them like Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe even with their greatness never broadcast wanting to set or break records.

And that's the problem with Novak... as accomplished as he is, he has to keep reminding the public of his excellence. And this attitude doesn't make me like him at all, however good he is.

Heading into the Olympics, he was over confident about winning the gold, especially when he kept advancing to the next round.

But his world came crashing down after being beaten by young German Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. After that loss, he just lost the heart and desire to keep playing because his plan was foiled.

Most athletes who participate in the Olympics carry the burden of playing for country. But Djokovic looked like it was all about himself. He didn't even play good enough for the bronze medal.

Aside from excellence in playing the game, people root for champions who remain humble despite their accomplishments. To my mind, that's what a real champion is.

Humility, modesty, and magnanimity. So many of the successful athletes exhibit these traits and this is why they are well-loved.

Lead image: Unsplash

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Written by   124
2 months ago
Topics: Sports, Thoughts, Reality
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Comments

My dad's a fan of watching any sports. He just finished watching tennis before the olympics. Before the pandemic when he was out, he would text me to watch the tennis games and update him about the match. 😄

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2 months ago

My dad followed most sporting events that are televised. He even watched golf, or would stay up late to follow tennis. And because the Olympics are only every four years, he made sure to watch those.

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2 months ago

I beleive humility is the best victory not fame or money

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2 months ago

So very true!

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2 months ago

I did not know any of the players you mentioned so I have no idea about this issue. At first, I was wondering why it is bad to tell the world about your goals, but I think I understand. He probably made a history of celebrating too early or something.

I know of a gymnast who set sights on making history herself too. Although it is more about a move that will be named after her than some medals. Simone Biles is personally someone I admire due to her honesty. Even if some people are disappointed in her backing out, I think that it teaches people that it is okay to do that instead of making life always achieving a goal or competing to win.

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2 months ago

For athletes, once you've achieved things through sheer hard work, and perhaps lucky breaks sometimes, the challenge is longevity, not setting your sights on more trophies. That will come as a result of the hard work.

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2 months ago

Losing is a part of the way to the success. Some people might not accept it immediately and some may also will. But above all, humility will be the true trophy.

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2 months ago

A true champion not only knows how to take loses in stride, but also never broadcasts that he is chasing after records. Instead they just train, play, and push themselves. If in the process they set records, then it is a bonus to celebrate.

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2 months ago

Well-said ☺️

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2 months ago

Some people just can't accept defeat gracefully... I am imagining how disheartened he must have been after losing. But you'd think being a professional he would at least stay steady competing. Oh well...

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2 months ago

It wasn't so much the losing in as much as it is about the bragging that he was great and the overconfidence that he would achieve a goal that others never announce but just do.

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2 months ago

hope this experience teaches him a lesson to just do next time rather than talk and brag

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2 months ago