Okay, show of hands–who cried when Simona Halep won on Saturday? I definitely got a little choked up. (Many years ago, I cried at the end of the movie Free Willie and was mercilessly mocked by my husband. I try to keep my happy-crying under wraps these days.)
I can’t even say I’m a huge Halep fan, but goodness, did she work hard for this! Three previous times she has come up empty-handed. Last year must have been exceptionally heartbreaking. The favorite going into the final, she ended up losing to complete unknown Jelena Ostapenko. Ouch.
Although there are players I root for more, I do enjoy watching Simona for her sheer relatability. Here’s what I mean:
- She struggles with self-doubt. She was so negative her own coach fired her, just because of her attitude. She had to work on changing her mindset to win him back. I’m not brimming with positivity myself, and I can easily grow discouraged about the state of my game. (Fortunately I haven’t been fired yet.) Even with her improved mental outlook, you can still see her battle her demons of doubt. I loved watching her vanquish them this time.
- She wears her heart on her sleeve. Some players are enigmas. When Petra Kvitova plays, I haven’t a clue what she’s thinking. As impressive as Kvitova’s game is, and as many times as I’ve watched her, I don’t feel a connection to her. Simona lets you in.
- She’s little. At 5’6″, Simona is diminutive by the game’s current standards. And she’s slight. Runner-up Sloane Stephens, only an inch taller, has a far more imposing build. It’s gratifying to see an average-sized woman take it all.
- She looks like she’s working hard. Really hard. On Saturday, Sloane floated effortlessly around the court, but Simona was grinding through every shot. That floating business is awfully pretty, but I can’t relate to that at all. Simona looks the way I feel when I’m playing.
Basically, except for that shiny new trophy, Simona is just like you and me. So is there anything we can learn from her win? One lesson I can try to learn from Simona is to not let bigger players intimidate me. If I run my butt off and keep my head down and trust in my own shots, I should be able to hold my own.
Congratulations, Simona, on a well-deserved win! (Oh, and some guy from Spain won the men’s championship.)
Did you watch this year’s finals? What can you learn from Simona?
*Photo by Tatiana, cc-by-sa-2.0
Before Simona won, I thought she didn’t have a chance; her game seemed too constrained by hard ground strokes, and not much more if that doesn’t work. I have liked her for a long time, impressed with her determination from matches I watched years ago. But her star power was fading, even though she was number 1, until this match with Sloane. She came to the net, she drop-shotted, she angled her shots, and she ran absolutely everything down, when it was absolutely impossible to do so. I cried at Free Willy, and yes for Simona! I am glad she finally won, and I was surprised to learn that Kim Clijsters lost four finals before she won, and Chris Evert lost three! And Chris Evert cried for Simona too, NYT Sunday!!!
You, me and Evert–a bunch of criers. We should have a girls’ night. We can get a bottle of wine, watch Free Willie and have a good cry-fest.
What was in the NYT? The bit about Evert?
I was never a Halep fan. She was dour on the court and dismissive in interviews. Had to admit, though, that I was rooting for her to break through at the French for her first final victory.
I joined you criers when in the stands she hugged her long-time coach, Darren Cahill. I learned from Halep that negativety can be overcome.
Yes, it was the hug with Darren Cahill that did it for me. Such a wonderful player-coach relationship.
Maybe you don’t overcome negativity so much as manage it, like a chronic disease? I’d love to know how Halep worked on this aspect of her personality.