When Roger Federer won the French Open in June, I was on the west coast visiting friends. It took a 6 a.m. wake-up to watch the final, and it was worth every minute.
At the time, I wrote about heroes. It was an important victory to say the least, and Federer handled his play and his historic achievement with the finesse and class we now expect of him. It seems fitting to give a shout out to Federer at this time – especially with the controversial buzz around Serena Williams’ disqualification the other evening.
And the RF shout-out is for his talent, public persona, and possibly the shot of his career yesterday, just before he took the match at 7-6 7-6 7-5 to move into today’s Final at the US Open.
For those who saw it – triple match point – you were on your feet and screaming! Well, I was!
Hell – my kid came running into the room to see if I was okay! And I loved watching his jaw drop when the replay showed the most astonishing, back-to-the-net, through-the-legs, beyond-the-baseline passing shot that… yep… made it over the net perfectly placed to win the point!
A few minutes later, Federer was shaking Novak Djokovic’s hand as the match ended, moving Federer into the Men’s Final to take place later today against Juan Martin Del Potro.
Can you spell H-O-T S-H-O-T?
If somehow you missed that shot – whether you’re a tennis addict or not – check it out on Youtube… and watch and listen to the French version! It’s a hoot! The commentator goes wild and whether you speak French or not – you’ll love it. Likewise, check out the German version (again, it’s delightful and I don’t speak a word of German).
And here you go, sports fans! In English. And the English version has the advantage of playing out this mind-boggling point and match point, followed by a brief but entertaining interview with Federer afterward.
Coverage in French, German, and English – ample enough I’d say, for our hot shot’s multilingual homeland, Switzerland.
Class carries the ball
Other highlights – and low lights – of the day?
Let’s not forget there were some beautiful points exchanged between Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters, with the Belgian former champ pulling ahead in the first set, and taking it in the second.
Another example of grit and class on the part of both of these fine athletes, with plenty of terrific tennis for the fans and viewers watching as Clijsters made history of her own.
As for low lights? In my opinion – there were some, and they came from the so-called fans. All the trash talking about Serena and Venus, the media harping on Serena’s behavior, and the blogosphere was a-twitter (yep) with biting remarks as well.
I find that even more inexcusable – albeit human nature – than the angry words that caused the controversial end to the Women’s Semi-Final match on Saturday.
Reality check, folks
Fans (and media) may still be reeling over the Serena Williams’ outburst, but let’s not forget that nothing has yet to confirm a foot fault – the cause of the brouhaha that took place during a match when, admittedly, Kim was serving up superior tennis. But a foot fault at that stage of the game, from a lines woman who had yet to make a peep throughout the match?!?
There are unwritten rules in this most elegant game – and some of them may seem like contradictions. Uh… like… “a gentlemen’s sport” – yet we adore our fiery personalities and always have!
Anyone remember John McEnroe’s antics on the court?
Did he not do and say plenty of things far worse than what Serena said? And on a regular basis? Didn’t we love the combination of tremendous talent and pyrotechnics on the court?
Serena’s outburst is unfortunate. I said it yesterday. I’ll say it again. We all prefer the kind of sportsmanship we see from Federer, Clijsters, Wozniacki, and let’s not forget Melanie Oudin who sparkled on that court and delighted us all!
But we’re also the country of non-stop personality-plus manufactured celebs of REALITY TV, aren’t we? The more outrageous our so-called public figures, the more we seem to love it.
Hot shots? We worship them – whether it’s for awe-inspiring athletic performance like Roger Federer delivered yesterday, or the bigger-than-life antics that rile us up, feed our media outlets, make us laugh or get under our skin.
So let’s hear it for what has been – thus far – an exciting, surprising, and dramatic US Open. And let’s get real when it comes to our penchant for heroes and hot shots. They’re human – and a little bit superhuman. We build them up, and some of us look for any opportunity to tear them down.
For now, I’m basking in the pleasure of great tennis, and happy I don’t live my life under the fickle and prickly heat of that kind of public spotlight.