Wimbledon then and now

July 6th, 2008

So twenty-seven years ago I was sitting on the couch watching Wimbledon, watching a new generation take down the five-time champion. It’s right there in my journal, in my child’s hand. And here I sit on the couch tonight watching the fifth set of Wimbldon as Nadal tries to snap Federer’s five-match winning streak.

I can see my child-self waking up early – six time zones away from London, that match was in the Chicago morning – going downstairs alone, having “breakfast with Wimbledon” in the living room. I probably had a waffle and a glass of orange juice; since my parents would have still been asleep, at least in the beginning of the match, I probably snuck my breakfast into the living room and ate sitting at the low coffee-table and cleared my dishes during a break between games. I probably had a school-girl crush on Borg; I probably didn’t appreciate the quality of the tennis in the least. I did know enough to know something historic had happened – I can’t imagine another tennis match that would have made it into my journal.

Here I am watching Wimbledon again. All these years later I still hold on to my childish faith in the magic of sport. All these years later I still believe in the power of sport to lead us to our best selves. I still believe that winning with humility, losing with grace, and pushing ourselves beyond our limits along the way are among the finest of human traits, and I still think athletic endeavor can teach us those lessons like nothing else.

All these years later, I still think that at 2 sets apiece, 5 games all, 40-40 a person finds out who she really is.