By Edson Agatti Lima
During my first years as a college tennis player at FGCU, I traveled to watch the Miami Open, one of the most important tournaments of tennis after the grand slams. It was the first time I ever went to such an important tournament, and I was thrilled.
At some of my first glances on the courts, I noticed some pros practicing on the back courts and one player in particular caught my attention. He was playing so smoothly, and his backhand slice reminded me of Roger Federer.
So I came up close and realized that it wasn´t just some tennis pro so good that “looked like” Roger Federer.
It was… In fact…
The Roger Federer!!!
I just couldn´t wrap my head around the fact that Roger Federer that I always saw on TV, could actually be an actual person of flesh and bones, practicing tennis right in front of me.
Needless to say that, as an absolute fan of Federer (to me he is the greatest tennis player of all time), watching him practice right up close was one of the most special moments in my life.
Today, after 24 years as a professional tennis player, Federer wrote about his official retirement.
Reading his retirement letter, and thinking back to the moment when I first saw him in Miami, made me reflect on how we so often idolize great achievers in a way that makes them seem like they have god-like powers which are unattainable to mere human beings like you and me.
Roger Federer did win 20 grand slams, 171 tournaments in his career, and has a record of 237 consecutive weeks as the number 1 ranked player. Yes, he is a star of the game. Talent-wise, in terms of tennis skills, he is the best out of ~7-8 billion people who lived during his time.
I mean, according to his letter, Roger himself was surprised at how good he became:
“I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
But then again, Roger “the human speaking to you in this letter” is the same person as Roger Federer “the god-like tennis player of whom we are speaking about”.
Another excerpt on the letter, further evidences his humbleness as a human being.
“I was a ball kid in my hometown of Basel. I used to watch tennis players with a sense of wonder. They were like giants to me and I began to dream.”
He was just another kid watching adult tennis players. Dreaming like anyone else. Let me say that again:
Just. Another. Person.
Now notice how he continues, and this is the passage which brings the hidden message I´d like to point out:
“My dreams led me to work harder and I started to believe in myself. Some success brought me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that has led to this day.”
He worked hard, started believing in himself and built up his confidence. In other words, Federer understands that he is a person like anyone else, and that it was his continuous effort and confidence (twice!) are what led him to become the tennis player he became.
Remember the message: whatever your dreams may be, there are no super powers dividing you from any great achiever in the world. Your idols are just as human as you are and most of what it takes for you to achieve greatness, is a matter of:
- Practice, practice, practice
- Believe in yourself
- Build up your confidence
Then in your field, you can also become the next Roger Federer.
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