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