25 September 2015

Venus-Serena tied at Love-All

This is the forty sixth in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults, consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you!  Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players ever.  In fact many would say she is the greatest female player of all time.  A few days ago Serena Williams lost to Roberta Vinci of Italy in the Semi-Final of the US Open.  Had she won, she would have been one match away from a rare calendar Grand Slam (Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Opens), a feat that has not been achieved since Steffi Graf swept the Grand Slam events in 1988.  

No athlete, however successful, can be happy at being defeated even if the result is accepted with grace.  Great athletes compete to win.  They can take defeats and will often use them as reasons to work harder at their game so they can do better next time.  Serena doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.  Her place in history is already assured.  

Her older sister Venus, also a champion whose achievements although not as spectacular are still praiseworthy, had this to say about a possible Serena loss in the Semi-Final or Final: “If it doesn't happen, it's not going to make or break you. We don't have anything to prove. She has nothing to prove. She's really the best ever, so what are you going to do? Just try to make it. If you don't, then that's that and go to the next one."

It didn’t happen.  Serena will move on.  But she left something behind that was beautiful and profound, something that had nothing to do with tennis.  It didn’t happen at the end of the Semi-Final, but at the end of the previous match, the Quarter-Final.  

It was not the first time she had beaten Venus, but this match was special.  Venus is already 35 but was showing the kind of form that won her many titles at the turn of the century when she, not Serena, was the ‘better sister’.  Serena was No 1 and was expected to win.  She did.  It was, according to Serena, one of the toughest matches she had played ‘in a really, really, really long time’.  All the more reason for Venus to be disappointed.  

Strangely, though, it was the loser who was consoling the winner.  Venus was all smiles as she held her sister in her arms.  They both would have known and now we know too that on this particular occasion it was somehow tougher for the winner.

No one knows what the sisters said to each other at the net when the match was over.  Serena said she doesn’t remember anything at all.  Venus wasn’t sure either: ‘I just said “I’m so happy for you”.  I don’t remember what else I said after that.  Just moments. Just the moments.’

Sisters are like that.  Siblings, in general, are like that.  It’s not the words that count for often the words are harsh and unforgiving.  It’s the gestures that matter.  It’s the moments.  

Other articles in this series

There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful
There are libraries everywhere
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be?
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table