But there is an I in Tennis! Of course, that means absolutely nothing except that it is a fact. There is also a T, and E, a couple of N’s and an S!
Oh cat, I got off track there for a minute. Too much cat nip! But not that far. I was thinking about the Women’s Final that took place yesterday, and there was an interesting dynamic that happened on the court. The two finalists, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, are both American’s, . Both players were out earlier in the year, skipping the Australian Open in January, with injuries which required surgeries. We all know that you don’t recover, rehab, and compete at the level of a grand slam final without a team behind you. Coaches, trainers, nutritionists, parents, friends…that’s your team!
To add an extra layer of complexity to this grand slam final, both players are also teammates and good friends. They play on the American Fed Cup team together, they competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics together, they themselves are teammates. So, imagine for a minute that you were playing for the biggest title of your career against a teammate and good friend. This was the scene for yesterday’s final.
But with all competition, there is a winner and there is a loser. And yesterday, the momentum swung in the direction of Sloane Stephens. Sloane Stephens was on point from the get go and Madison Keys struggled to find her game. The final score was a convincing 6-3, 6-0.
For me, the highlights came after the match! After the win, both players met at the net like players do. But instead of the cold handshake, chair umpire handshake, then march back to your chair, Sloane and Madison hugged at the net and one friend consoled the other while she cried on the winner’s shoulder. Then instead of going to their own respective seats, the winner sits next to her friend and laughs and cuts up until the trophy ceremony. Furriends, if you don’t follow tennis, let me tell you, I have been watching tennis a long time and this NEVER happens.
Then, during the trophy ceremony, both players had beautiful, gracious things to say about the other player. I cried through the whole thing! (No one is surprised by this, I’m sure). Wonderful display of sportsmanship, friendship and class at a time when our world needs a little bit of it!
So even though there is no I in Team, there is a team within tennis. And the American women’s teamwork was on full display yesterday! Congratulations to Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens.