I tried hard for 5 days but was just not able to float in the pool. My swimming coach was exasperated. Just before my 6th class, when I was debating whether to continue or quit, I saw Serena Williams playing the US Open, 2013 finals against Victoria Azarenka.
Serena won the first set even though Azarenka got an early lead but then she lost the second. However, playing with the trademark 'Serena' aggression and accuracy, she went on to crush her opponent in the third set and won the title.
I love to see her play when she seems to be trailing in the game. It gets the best out of her. There are many moments where she has clawed back from the jaws of defeat.
She showed her fighter instincts in the 2003 Australian Open semifinal against the formidable Kim Clijsters. In the final set, Clijsters was leading 5-1. Serena saved two match points and went ahead and won the match with the scoreline - 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. She won the title as well.
In the Wimbledon semifinal match in 2009, Serena's opponent was Elena Dementieva. Both had won a set each. Elena had a match point at 5-4 in the third set. Serena persevered, fought back and won the set at 8-6. She went on to win the championship too.
In the quarterfinal match in the 2010 Australian Open, Victoria Azarenka (again!) won the first set and seemed to be cruising to a victory with a 4-0 lead in the second. Serena slowly and steadily got back in the match and went on to win it 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 and went on to win the title!
She was forced out of the sport for a year because of a foot injury and a pulmonary embolism. Her ranking dropped to 175. A year later she was back and won the Olympic Gold, US Open and the WTA Championship. She also reclaimed the No. 1 Ranking. She is now on course for the mother of all comebacks – get back to the highest level of competitive tennis at the age of 37 a few months after the birth of her first child!
It takes more than just physical prowess and talent for a comeback on the big stage. It requires mental fortitude, resilience and a tremendous amount of self-belief. Serena is an epitome of all these qualities.
As for me, I was motivated by her win and went to the pool and did manage to float much to the relief of my coach. Quite insignificant, of course, when compared to Serena's achievements, but I give her full credit for my little victory that day!Published 01 Mar 2018, 14:55 IST