Artwork by Hallie Anderson
Athletes such as Bianca Andreescu, 2019 US Open women’s champion, remind us female athletes to persist and make ourselves known.
During the final of the Women’s U.S. Open, dreams became a reality for 19-year-old rising star Bianca Andreescu, who defeated the long-time champion Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 in her U.S. Open debut. She is the first woman ever to win the title during her debut, and she is also the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam Singles title. While I watched the match, I noticed and deeply admired Andreescu and her poise under pressure, which is an extremely important trait for athletes to have. Being a female athlete myself, I look up to athletes such as Andreescu and Williams for their strength, resilience and skill.
Eesha Gudiseva (12), who recently committed to play tennis at Ole Miss, also respects Andreescu’s style of play, but more importantly, her mental toughness. She said, “Andreescu is really mature for her age; she’s only 19, and it was incredible that she could stay composed and focused while she had a whole stadium cheering against her. She was up 5-1 in the second set, then let Serena back in the match, but was able to close it off, which takes a lot of mental strength, more so than actually playing.”
Tennis is a game that requires perseverance and mental fortitude above anything else, and I was greatly impressed with Andreescu’s ability to concentrate and push through. Mental toughness is usually a quality associated with male tennis players and male athletes in general; however, female tennis players must be able to perform with just as much mental strength throughout a match.
Laura Isaacs (11), who plays tennis for St. Mary’s, also noticed some things about Andreescu’s strategies. She said, “I like her style of play. It’s aggressive, and she mixes it up a lot and doesn’t stick to just one style.” Isaacs also discussed the fact that being the underdog could have benefited Andreescu. She said, “Because she was the underdog, she was never hesitant and didn’t seem nervous.” Williams was thoroughly congratulatory of Andreescu.
After the match, some people even questioned how much Williams cared about winning the match. When she lost to Osaka last year, she threw her racquet out of frustration after being penalized by the umpire for being coached during the match. However, this year, she seemed more calm and collected, which some people viewed as apathy.
Isaacs pointed out “Last year Williams was angry at umpire, not her opponent. The penalties she was given were sexist in her opinion; she felt that she had been given harsher penalties because she was an outspoken woman. She also felt that she could’ve won without the umpire’s comments. This year I definitely thought she would congratulate her opponent; she was just frustrated with the circumstances during last year’s finals.”
Gudiseva said , “Of course she cares about winning as much as she used to. Why else would she still be competing and trying to break records? A big part of being a good tennis player is being able to keep your emotions in line, so she for sure is upset after losing a final, but not showing that is part of the game.”
Being gracious and sportsmanlike can be an athlete’s greatest lesson; however, accepting defeat is just as important as being a humble winner. Throughout her career, Williams has learned how to conceal her emotions,which is equally as necessary as being skilled on the court. Additionally, many forget to consider that Williams has more than just tennis to worry about.
Williams gave birth to her first child, Alexis, in September 2017. She put her tennis career on hold to have her baby girl, which was a difficult decision to make considering her status as a tennis player. While it took strength to pause her tennis career, it is even more impressive that Williams has come back to compete so soon after giving birth. Isaacs commented “I admire Williams for being able to get back in shape physically but also mentally. She has also shown that women don’t have to give their lives up when they have a child.”
Being a female athlete myself, I look up to both Williams and Andreescu. They have both had individual battles to fight, yet they retained their strength. Women who participate in sports not only experience pressure to be the best they can be, but they must also fight to be recognized in a sports world dominated by men. I, along with many other aspiring female athletes, will continue to look for examples of female leadership in the sports world. Being a soccer player, my greatest motivators are the women on the United States Women’s National Team who persist and shine, such as Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Tobin Heath.
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