These are emotional times. Lately I feel like I am either laughing or crying at the drop of a hat, and yes – in case people are wondering – I’ve been through menopause.
There are far too many feelings to get into – and many of us are probably experiencing a similar reality – but suffice it to say that on the one end there’s the infinite joy of grandchildren and on the other is all the matter that darkens up the sky.
Every now and then, extra tears creep in, surprising even myself at how close to the surface they must be to roll down my face when they don’t seem warranted.
Friday’s tears caught me off guard and were kind of embarrassing, especially when David turned to me and asked in an incredulous tone, “Are you crying?”
We were sitting side-by-side watching the Italian Open Tennis Championship in Rome, and he could hear me sniffing.
I’m sure to him there would be no reason to be emotional, especially because I wasn’t attached to either of the two players like I’ve been to Naomi Osaka, who opted out of this tournament with a nagging hamstring injury.
The match on at the time was between Daria Kasatkina and Victoria “Vika” Azarenka.
This was the third-round match for them and, unlike the U.S. Open on a hard court, this was on clay. They had just played the first set of two or three (best of three) and were engaged in a very close battle – the score was 6-6 – and they were in the midst of the tiebreak.
Vika had been on a hot streak; she had made an awe-inspiring comeback after years of missed tournaments due to a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend over their son, an issue that I mentioned in last week’s blog post called Game, Set, Match.
I wasn’t familiar with Daria before that match, but David told me that she had been moving up the rankings several years ago but then leveled off; recently, she upped her game but then was injured on the court and had to take a hiatus.
So here the two women were during the tiebreak, when Daria slid toward a ball that dropped right over the net, her right ankle turned in, and she rolled over it. She fell to the ground and laid there – not moving – and clearly in pain.
Within seconds, Vika rushed to her opponent with an ice bag to keep Daria’s ankle from swelling, took off Daria’s shoe to place the ice on her ankle and wiped the clay off her back and legs…just like a mom would do with her daughter.
Vika and the sports trainer helped to get Daria off the court and to her seat. Once the trainer assessed the situation, Daria had to retire from the match.
For a couple of minutes more, viewers could see Vika bending down to the same height as Daria on her chair, and the two women were face-to-face sharing a private moment (overheard by the courtside microphone). When Vika stood up, she kissed Daria on her head.
As Vika was getting ready to walk away, Daria reached out for her hand and then said something to Vika, which was later shared by media outlets.
Daria told Vika that her (Vika’s) “game in America inspired me,” referring to the recently completed U.S. Open.
Then Vika said to Daria, “Just keep going. Don’t ever think it’s over. You can always try harder. Just do the best out of the situation.”
This is great advice that can be applied to almost anything, given by a tennis champion and, equally as important, a mom.
Seeing Vika mother her opponent brought me to tears. I don’t know if it’s because Daria is only 23 years old, and when I saw her age, I thought to myself She could be my daughter. I then felt so sad knowing how heartbroken she must have felt when she realized she couldn’t continue to play.
Then – kind of unnervingly – I realized that Vika at 31-years-old could also be my daughter and, in that case, I was so very proud of her. Not only did she demonstrate admirable sportsmanship but to witness her motherly instincts coupled with enormous compassion was incredibly touching.
Looking at all that transpired and the exchange between the two was more riveting than the set itself. It would’ve been so easy – and expected – for Vika to attend to Daria briefly, wish her well and then within a minute or two bask in her own glory of winning the match (albeit by default) and move on to the next round.
I’m not really sure what’s causing my emotions to be on high alert. Perhaps having three grandchildren born within 3.5 months during COVID has done it to me. Perhaps because I feel more love and connection than ever before. Perhaps because there’s a scary and divisive virus going around with no end in sight. Perhaps because the election is right around the corner. Perhaps because I have way too much time to reflect on things.