I’m gonna start this blog on a somber note. While we watch and enjoy the being a part of tennis history at the All England Games, let us remember that in the last twenty four hours, several American families have lost loved ones to the needless violence that has recently strengthened its grip on the U.S.
It is a wonder, the damage hate can bring to a nation, and to the world. The fact that this hate is based on something as trivial as skin pigmentation, makes it all the more mind boggling. Our prejudices as people are often baseless and inherited… two tragic facts. The problem facing the most powerful country in the world is skin deep. Dig a little deeper, and we are all pretty much the same.
What was the difference between Federer and Raonic today? In the face of their five set classic, you can toss those differences aside. 17 Slams? One handed backhand or two handed backhand? A ballistic serve or a precision based delivery? The power game vs the complete game? The rising star vs the aging champ? All of that was a blur today in the midst of breathtaking rallies, fantastic cat and mouth games, blistering ground strokes, rousing battle cries and a thunderous center court that would make the roman gladiatorial arenas, proud.
These two men were chasing destiny in very different and yet similarly profound ways. Federer had put his heart and soul into winning this tournament – I still get this nagging feeling that it might have been his last – and he willed his aging and breaking body to summon every ounce of talent, and strength left to do it. Raonic has been working hard to catch up to the Big Four’s level. He has stared at the great divide between those four and the rest of the tour and taken steps to cross it. He was close in Australia and as it stands, he’s much closer now. Coming into this match, both these men had come back from two sets down to win matches, in the tournament. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been in any doubt whether or not this match would go the distance. Federer and Raonic both dug deep and showed just how wonderfully competitive and resilient, their human spirits are.
In the end, youth and hunger won over age and experience. Yet, that is not what really matters. What matters is to realize that in that moment, the backgrounds, the races or cultural differences of everyone packed in center court, did not matter. We were all cheering spectators, watching and applauding a grand performance by simple tennis players. When everyone rose as one, that ‘world’ was united. That is the power of sport and goodwill. As Raonic moves on to the final to face Murray, we would do well to remember that one more time.
Rest In Peace to all the victims.