Tennis is such a mental sport. How many times have we all heard that and yet found it hard to correct even at the club level?
Champions in all sports become champions because of their athleticism along with their ability to mentally will themselves to perform through the most extreme circumstances.
I’ve never been in a professional anything but I have been in some important (to me) competitive moments. Some of them ended with a smile from me while others, not so much! I can honestly say that in the not so much moments, I allowed my body to feel the pressure, feel the fear, and many would simply say I chocked. (They are right but I hate to admit it!) And when I say allowed my body I mean I was unable to block out the pressure and it broke me.
Saturday’s Women’s Tennis US Open Final was just such a moment for both Serena (not so much) and Naomi (smile time).
Serena Williams is no stranger to championship play with 23 grand slam singles titles to her name. As a player and winner of so many championships, she has been known for her ability to convert negative mental speak into positive physical play, thus so many titles! Unfortunately for her she let the mental side of tennis destroy her game this past Saturday in front of a stadium filled with her supporters. She may wish to blame her coach—for the illegal coaching, or the chair for making the call, but the reality is that she is the player and she alone is the one who controls her destiny, that and her opponent.
Naomi Osaka has had her share of winning moments. In order to qualify to play in a grand slam one must surely have won a few matches! But this was her very first time in a grand slam final. This was the biggest match of her life, ever! If anyone should have trouble with her nerves you would think it would be her. But no, it was not! All credit to this 20 year old who played lights out tennis and never once let the enormity of the moment, or the craziness of what was going on with her idol/opponent take her off of her mental game. No, she forged ahead and she did what champions do, she played amazing tennis and that is what she will be remembered for. And in case you didn’t know it, Naomi Osaka is 2-0 against Serena Williams.