Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Not All Weeks in Sports Are Created Equal: From Good to Great, Thank you Serena Williams

If there's a spring in my step, it's because it's a great week in sports. I have been feasting on outstanding athletics and exciting competition. It started with Breakfast not only at Wimbledon but in Paris, with the Women's World Cup Final at 8:00 a.m. PDT on Sunday. While most of MLB enjoys some respite, I still delight in the All-Star break and all its festivities. I check in on the Home Run Derby and still cheer for the National League to defeat the American League. No such luck (AL 4- NL 3). I am already licking my chops as the the fourth and final major of the year in golf, The Open, which will commence next week at Royal Portrush in Portrush, Northern Ireland. It's a great time to be a sports fan.
Not all great sports weeks deliver great sports. I have anticipated and awaited these critical junctures and been left unaffected and disappointed. I do believe however that the joy of sport is that you just never know. Yes, you will get the good, not great. Things will go flat and our teams will fail. But you will also get what surpasses expectation. You will see what you've never seen, witness what has never be done. Similar to a great meal, these "wow!" moments are special—savor them. You can compare and contrast them to other feats and meaningful memories—that is what we sports fans do best—but I try to enjoy each one for what it is. And, Serena Williams' quarterfinal win at Wimbledon reminded me why I love her and I love sports so much.

In the article "Wimbledon 2019: Serena Williams, Simona Halep Wins Highlight Tuesday's Results" Christopher Simpson writes:
Riske's meeting with Williams was their first singles match against one another. It was also the former's first Grand Slam quarter-final, whereas the latter is in pursuit of her 24th major singles title. 
Williams was twice a break down in the opening set, but she battled back to take it 6-4. 
A strong start from Riske made it a competitive contest from the outset, and she fended off some strong serving from Williams to draw first blood, per SportsLine's Mike McClure:
The 29-year-old responded immediately when Williams leveled proceedings at 3-3, but after the seven-time Wimbledon champion broke back a second time for 4-4, she used that momentum to take the set.
Both players found breaks more difficult to come by in the second set, and Riske kept Williams on her toes with some neat shot variation, catching out her illustrious opponent with a well-executed drop shot.
Riske took the set 6-4. I wondered what Serena, under duress, would do with the deciding one. 

After going up 3 games to 1, Williams dropped two games in a row to fellow American, Riske. When that happened, rather than lose it or get overly down on herself, Williams went inside. Her focus was visible...audible...downright palpable. She started to hit the ball with brute force. She didn't let one return go soft. She served the ball at 116, 118 and even 125 miles an hour. I must admit, Riske was unflappable. She responded with her own velocity. However, Serena was too good.

At 30-all, up 5-3 in the third, Williams served up an ace and on match point, Riske returned the serve. It was out. Serena knew it and offered a primal yawp. A clutch win. A valiant fist pump. Just over the sound of the cheering crowd and Serena's entourage, I heard the chair umpire announce: "Game, Set, Match Williams."
God I love that phrase. What an awesome way to conclude an athletic contest. Summary statement to end all. El Fin. Muy bien. Those three words got me thinking about other great terms in Sports and Spirituality. I have a feeling that will be a future blog posting.... I'll concoct some sort of recipe that will outline criteria....but in the meantime, my belly is full. I do however, always leave room for dessert. 

Dessert came by way mixed doubles at Wimbledon. Serena Williams has teamed up with Andy Murray and they defeated Fabrice Martin and Raquel Atawo in a match that had me smiling, yelling, clapping and standing. Too good! Five star rating. Unfortunately, they just lost in the third round, to the top seeds, Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar. 

Enjoy the rest of the week....Bon Appetite!

Photo Credits
Murray and Williams
Serena getting after it

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