By Glenne Fucci, Regular ContributorSeptember 12, 2015
Summer always ends the same way in New York. Each August the U.S. Open rolls into town to showcase the best and brightest tennis talent and to signify the end of the Grand Slam season. There are plenty of upsets, inspirational moments, and panoramic views of New York City to keep you captivated for two whole weeks. This year is even more special though because there’s also the possibility of witnessing history being made.
Whether you watch tennis or not, Serena Williams has become a household name over the past decade. She has grown as a person, a tennis player, and a major sports star over the last fifteen plus years, and we have had the pleasure of getting to watch her through it all. She may make history this Open tournament by clinching her 28th Grand Slam title and winning all four of the Grand Slams this year (Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open and U.S. Open).
We ladies can learn a lot from the resiliency of this incredible athlete, both on and off the court.
To be honest, Serena was not my first athlete inspiration. Back in 2006 I attended the U.S. Open for the first time and sat in awe as I watched Maria Sharapova dominate in the 2nd round (she went on to win the Open that year). I had never been interested in tennis, but suddenly I was hooked. I received a racket and lessons for my 15th birthday and went on to make my high school’s tennis team (and win the league championship) in my junior and senior years. I admired Maria, not for all the conventional reasons that the media has seemingly latched onto, but rather because I saw much of myself as an athlete in her. I have always been a somewhat emotionless competitor; whether I’m winning or losing, in pain or feeling great, my demeanor never changes. I’m fairly stoic and calm, even in the toughest of moments, which got me mistakenly labeled as indifferent and passionless about the game. In that first tennis match I ever watched, I saw a person who shared many of the same competitive qualities as me, so I have always looked up to her as an athlete.
image via articles.chicagotribune.com
That being said, Serena is my athletic opposite. She wears her passion and emotion on her sleeve, and within five minutes of watching her play, it’s clear just how devoted and invested in each match she is. This behavior has led her to be on the receiving end of some less than favorable media attention (along with lots of other hurtful and derogatory remarks), but I think that her conduct on the court is really why she’s so incredible in the first place.
Serena is unafraid to be who she is, as a person and as a player, both on and off the court. She is unapologetic for her open displays of emotion, and, honestly, she doesn’t need to be.
She is unquestionably the best tennis player in the world, so that should pretty much give her a free pass from negative media attention. Despite the #1 ranking, she has spent most of her career fielding hurtful press commentary and greater criticism than her counterparts. In light of a sport that has consistently told her no, whether from fans hurling racial slurs or tennis aficionados remarking on how different she is from traditional tennis players, she is now the most accomplished female player and second highest paid female athlete in the world. If that doesn’t show some perseverance, I’m not sure what does.
Whether you’re an athlete or not, we’ve all faced criticism at some point in our lives. We’ve all been told we don’t fit in or we’re not what someone is looking for or we’re too much of something and not enough of something else. In those moments, when we feel like it would just be easier to stop trying to achieve the goals that we have, we can look toward Serena for some guidance. We can reflect on her accomplishments and know that we, too, can be great, even when people tell us that we shouldn’t be. We all have so much to offer the world, in so many different ways. We truly need to block out the haters, go after that which we are most passionate about, and channel our inner-Serena.
So girls, get out there, blaze trails, be unashamed to be you, and make history!
Have you been watching the Open? Who are you rooting for? Who inspires you to never give up? Tell us below!
Glenne is a third year law student hailing from NYC, University of Michigan ‘13 grad and Beyonce enthusiast. Currently residing in Korea, her interests include duathlons/triathlons, traveling near and far, documentary films, consuming sugary cereal, watching mid-2000s teen dramas and singing her heart out at Betty Who concerts. You can watch her attempt to navigate Asia and beyond on Instagram @glennefucci.
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