(By Dr. Ignatius Jacob)
The tattoo written on the right biceps of the Ladies Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousova reads “No Rains No Flowers”. “You never achieve anything in life without hard struggle,“ is her message. Though an unseeded player she put all her valiant efforts to reach the finals and win the championship. She owes her success to her family, especially her grandfather who sacrificed a lot for her training. He used to make a two-hour drive to Prague to train. She managed to beat the Tunisian player Ons Jabeur against the expectation of the crowd. She showed her real self-belief, grit and determination.
Wimbledon 2023 witnessed one of the best matches ever in the men’s final when a twenty-year-old Spanish kid beat the 23-time grand slam champion, regarded as the greatest of all time, Novak Djokovic. Truly incredible indeed! “A 20-year-old kid beating the GOAT (Greatest of all time).” Djokovic himself admitted that Carlos Alcaraz was the most complete player that he ever played. Carlos now becomes the third youngest to win Wimbledon after 17-year-old Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg in the past. “Alcaraz combined the best elements of himself, Federer and Nadal,” said Novak.
After losing the first set 6-1, Alcaraz came back to win with a nail-biting five-set match. His 36-year-old opponent lost his temper and smashed his racket against the net post. Alcaraz had all the technical and mental tools during the entire match. The contest was one of a generation gap of 16 years between the two players. The noise from the crowd on Alcaraz’s winning points was ear-splitting. His mental resilience, maturity and poise for someone who is just 20 years is impressive. “He has the Spanish bull mentality of competitiveness, fighting spirit and incredible defence,“ according to Novak.
“It is the happiest moment in my life. Beating Novak is something that I dreamt about since I started playing Tennis. I am really proud of myself and my team,” he said. He will be around for some time playing tennis. He now has a chance to meet Novak again in the US Open.
This year we also witnessed the arrival of three more youngsters in Wimbledon: 16-year-old Mirra Anddreeva, Rune and Sinner. Also, this is the year in which a 17 year old Henry Searle became the first British Boys Champion since 1962. He is a tall 6’4” left-hander who has all the hallmarks of a future senior champion. My best wishes to him.
Marketa Vondrousova, the Czech nicknamed the “minister of happiness” in her homeland, won the prize money of £2.35 million. She has a passion for trainers and has a total of 200 pairs. She also likes tattoos.
Chris Eubank is a tall American (6’8”) who also played very well until he reached quarter-finals. He is notable for his cheerful and friendly personality and rapport with the spectators. I selected him as the man of the series for his conduct, friendly manners and connectivity with the crowd. “A smile costs nothing but gives much. It takes but a moment but the memory of it has the potential to last forever.”
The lessons we could learn from Wimbledon are some of the unique qualities of the winning players in addition to their tennis skills. We wonder how Alcaraz, just 20 years old, showed the composure, mental fortitude, aggression and dynamism of a grown-up player. He was honed and supported by his family with love, care and encouragement. He started holding the racket at the tender age of just 3 years under his dad’s supervision. His three brothers are all tennis players and his dad a good player and director of a tennis academy. His mum has always been a strong pillar of support. It is no surprise that he grew up with such high self-esteem, confidence and self-belief. His stable and supportive relationship with his parents as caregivers and mentors protected him from developmental disruptions. He soon learned the ability to function well in the face of adversity, remain calm in crisis, hopeful even when facing setbacks and developed a mental, physical, social and spiritual balance in his personality. He got constant support from his expert coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, and sports psychologist, Josfina Cuttilan, from an early age of 8 and from the nutritionist. He keeps up his exercise, nutrition, rest and relaxation.
“He has raw power and pure touch,” says Martina Navratilova. His drop shots is a thing of beauty, disarming the opponents. “It is tennis in its art form.” He is also poised in big moments.
Carlos also has the charisma, connectivity and humility in his nature. His smiles while playing and fighting are a hallmark. He is only a teenager says Ruud. I never played a guy who moves as well as him” (Tiafoe).
Any child when given the love, care, attention and encouragement by parents, caregivers, teachers and mentors always blossoms in their lives. Gandhiji dealt with extreme and demanding situations with perseverance and dedication to the pursuit of his goal. Nelson Mandela, who built the rainbow nation, said ”I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. Do not judge me by my success, judge me how many times I fell down and got back again.” “Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I built my life,” says Jk Rowling.
I enjoy all sports, athletics and music. I have been to watch football at Old Trafford and Emirates stadiums, cricket at Lords and Oval grounds, and tennis at Wimbledon. Wimbledon is extra special where you meet people of all ages and nationalities looking happy, relaxed and enjoying life. It is indeed a memorable and unforgettable experience. The game and the taste of strawberries with ice cream always stay with your forever.
Let us also learn to develop the qualities of humility, warmth, friendliness, self-worth, mental fortitude and resilience like these remarkable sportsmen and women. Let us devote and invest a chunk of our time for our beloved children, talking and listening to them, being their mentors as well as friends and making them become their own best friends. Let them blossom from a fading bud into full-blown beautiful flowers. Let them sparkle and shine like diamonds in their lives.