Every two weeks in The Coach’s Box, Timothy Thomas explores the various lessons that can be learned from the world of sports.
Tennis phenom Serena Williams is arguably the greatest athlete in the world, not just in tennis but in all sports. But after being knocked out by Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the US Open earlier this month, Williams’ career is now at an end.
Williams’ background and early successes (she won her first Grand Slam title when she was only 17), as well as her one-of-a-kind attitude, set her apart from what is considered the traditional path to tennis greatness. Her 23 Grand Slam titles are one less than Margaret Court’s record from 1960 to 1973. But that “shy” has become the focus of a recent controversy involving Court in the aftermath of Williams’ retirement (or “evolving “, as she calls it).
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Australian record holder Margaret Court believes she is often offended by Williams and the rest of the tennis world for her achievements. Additionally, Court feels neglected due to her Christian beliefs and her opposition to same-sex marriage.
On paper, Court makes a compelling argument as to why she is significantly more skilled than Williams. Court still holds the single Grand Slam title record (24). Williams also played seven years longer than Court, retiring at 41 while Court retired in her late 30s after taking two years off to get married and have a baby. Court has won three out of four Grand Slams after her first child, while Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the birth of her daughter Olympia (although I think it’s worth noting that Serena won while eight weeks pregnant from Olympia). What about the Court-era talent pool? She says she faced a lot of women in the top ten, including a couple of number one players at the time.
Court even believes that playing in this modern age of tennis is easier than what he has had to deal with. “How I would have loved to have taken family or friends with me,” he said The Telegraph. “But I couldn’t. I had to go alone or with the national team. People don’t see all of this. “He continued:” We didn’t have any psychologists or coaches with us. It’s a completely different world. That’s what disappoints me: that today’s players don’t honor the game’s past. “
Even though I’m partially admitted to Williams due to what she and her sister went through to achieve their status, particularly as African American women in a society that places them on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder, I can’t help but agree with Court. It is important to honor the past and the players who have paved the way for us to accomplish what we can today. I think Serena would also agree that Court deserves credit for her achievements and what she has accomplished for tennis.
(Likewise, if anyone were to understand the importance of honoring historical figures and deeds, it should be believers who base all their faith on legends such as Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus. We remember them for how God used them as a foundation. for his Kingdom, of which we are a part.)
However, the context is crucial. A lot of high profile Christians in different sports recognize God or Jesus in their public life and are not despised simply for proclaiming their faith. It is very likely that Court is rarely mentioned, not only because of her social views on same-sex marriage, but also because of her contempt for gay people as people. In 1990 she was critical of Martina Navratilova, not because of the latter’s tennis skills, but rather because she Navratilova is gay. Court considered her “a great player”, but she quickly added that she would like “someone at the top that younger players can look to. It is very sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality.”
This loss of Navratilova’s humanity and skill can be traced back to Court’s views on race. In 1970, the court supported apartheid. “The South Africans have organized this better than any other country, especially America,” she would have said. “I love South Africa. I’ll be back anytime “.
Both comments, but particularly the second, provide context and insight into Court’s ongoing criticism of Serena Williams. She quickly attacked Williams ‘sportsmanship when she did not passionately disagree with a line judge in 2011. Even in the aftermath of the fanfare celebrating the end of Williams’ career, Court criticized Williams for not recognizing her opponent enough. in the post-match interview. “I think it was bad that Williams didn’t mention her opponent more than she did when she spoke,” Court said. “We have been taught to honor our opponent. We respect each other “.
If life and death are in the power of the tongue, then Court seems to lean towards destruction rather than life with his comments, especially regarding Serena. In a passive-aggressive way, most of these comments are veiled in praise. “Serena, I admired her as a player,” he said The Telegraph. “But I don’t think she ever admired me.” As an avowed believer and someone who has ministries named after her, Court’s brand of Christianity simply doesn’t fit her beliefs as a Christian of hers.
If Margaret Court is true to her beliefs (i.e., that she is the best tennis player ever) as a Christian, then she doesn’t need to be the achievements of little Serena Williams. Not even her need the approval of men to validate his beliefs (Galatians 1:10, Matthew 10:14). Court’s nationalist-style Christianity wants both: the praise of men Other the praises of God, when Jesus emphatically told believers to expect otherwise (Matthew 5: 11-13; Luke 9: 24-27). If the court were sincerely true to his beliefs, then it should rejoice that it was rejected, not complain and demand respect.
It’s important to recognize Margaret Court’s talent, but it’s easy to see why she was ignored by the tennis world. Maybe it’s simply because of her beliefs about her. But she may have more to do with her failure to recognize the image of God imbued with everyone else outside of her fragile Christianity, even if they do not recognize the God whose image of her they bear.
Court’s latest remarks on beloved world champion Serena Williams should remind us to love and live in peace with all men, even if we feel offended. We must not strive for the approval of men because we have the welcome of God the Father through him, the son of him Jesus Christ, which enables us live in peace with all (Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14).