(I’ve been thinking of slowly incorporating my Tennis thoughts in this blog, so I chose to publish this here. Also, my short-lived tennis blog have since died a natural death.)
Nolerena simply means Nole (or Novak Djokovic) + Serena (Williams), two of my current favorite tennis players and possibly my top male and female tennis players of all time.
2017 is strange because they will both begin Grand Slam season as Number 2s in the world. I’m still not used to it. I’m determined not to get used to it. They’ve been Number 1s in my heart for so long that it’s difficult to think of them as anything less in actual, real world rankings.
This is not meant to diss or diminish their fellow players; it is human nature to simply prefer someone over the other. Fact of the matter is, I just like them better. Their stories resonate with me more.
So what makes them so darn special, at least for me?
They’re different. Once upon a time, they tried to fit in, to blend in with the others. But one day, they decided that they’re not cut out for conformity, after all. They’re not afraid to be themselves.
They’re fascinating. Never one-note or two-dimensional. They are not the typical, polished, micromanaged sporting stars. They can be rough around the edges but still be adorably wholesome and relatable.
They are not perfect. Far from it. Tempers? Yep, they sure have them. Tons of clips are available online where they have exhibited less-than-rolemodel behavior. Countless memes have been made over their infamous on-court outbursts. But, to their defense, they were never out of malice and most of the time, brought about by the heat-of-the-moment. They are passionate for what they do, that much is obvious.
Media darlings? Nope. Sure, they get served their accolades whenever they’re victorious, but not without a sprinkling of backhanded compliments or long-winded references to the records of their rivals that they need to equal or surpass. They’re not desperate for good press. They tell it like it is and stand up for what they believe in. They create their own narratives when the media can’t decipher or just refuse to disseminate their truths.
They’re human. They’re not invincible. I’ve seen them cry. I’ve seen them crumble. I’ve seen them fail. But all that just makes them all the more admirable. They never let a setback keep them down.
They constantly defy expectations. They’ve put up with loads of bullshit on their way up and now they work to shatter antiquated systems.
They succeeded because, and in spite of, their backgrounds. They know where they come from and they own their history.
They know their worth. And not the measurable financial sense. Because what is money compared to the fulfillment of being able to live their dreams day in and day out?
They give back. They care about relevant issues and they want others to rise above hardship and have better lives, too.
They’re brave. They’re smart. They’re humble, but sassy when need be. They’re funny. They know how to laugh at themselves. It’s evident that they love themselves, not in a vain way, but in the most essential way. They’re nutty, at times, but then again, what’s genius without madness? And yes, they’re very much tennis geniuses. Their methods are different but nonetheless spectacular.
Their mental strength? Astounding. It’s as if they use the doubts and taunts of critics as fuel. They set their own limits. They are their own worst enemies, not a current rival or a figure from the past. They hate losing, but they learn from it. They’re Winners. And even when they come up short, you just know their bounce back is nigh.
And their tennis? A bevy of adjectives apply, depending on their opponent and mood that match: Clinical. Majestic. Mind-boggling. Astonishing. Powerful. Sometimes their level of skill and play defies description. When they hold that racket, magic happens.
I have lost years off my life watching some of their matches, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I look at them and I think, “Wow. Amazing.”
I can go on and on longer, but you must have gotten my point by now. These two are not just extraordinary players but more important, they are extraordinary human beings that need to be celebrated more. Why is that so? Must we wait until they both retire to appreciate them? It’s an appalling injustice.
The movies can keep their superheroes. Nolerena’s the closest thing to sporting superheroes there are in reality.
In a world where they’re constantly being undervalued and underestimated, Novak and Serena embrace who they truly are and will never apologize for sharing their unique brand of light (and fight) to the rest of the world.
And that, is the best achievement that needs no medal or trophy.