July 21, 2004
Williams, after losing, proves she's
What a nice lesson in graciousness, given by tennis
star Serena Williams, in showing Maria Sharapova "the
ropes" in Centre Court at Wimbledon, after Maria
defeated Serena for the ladies singles' championship.
There are expected behaviors toward the Royal Box at
Wimbledon, as well as protocol for receiving and displaying
the championship trophy.
Serena was not required to help Maria, but she did.
As a consequence, Maria came across more poised because
of Serena's thoughtfulness. What do you think of this
Serena Williams demonstrated graciousness in how she
offered reassurance and guidance to a first-time winner
at Wimbledon. In addition, her behavior communicated
maturity regarding leadership and character. Serena may
have built an even more legitimate foundation for her
career through her gracious response in defeat than she
might have achieved in yet another crushing victory.
We can never be certain, but we can assess the positive
and constructive value of her appropriate actions.
First, let's look at the setting of the London tennis
classic staged at Wimbledon. Nowhere else are players
still required to wear predominantly white clothing.
Advertising and sponsorship are blasted at you from every
corner of the competitive tennis world -- except at Wimbledon.
And of course only in London, SW19, do they still play
lawn tennis on grass. So, yes, tradition is important.
Tastefulness is expected. And, with Serena's behavior
toward Maria, we now know that thoughtfulness and kindness
are also appropriate.
Second, she demonstrated leadership. Despite the fact
that she could not rally the necessary athletic resources
to win the championship match, she handled herself maturely.
She adhered to the Wimbledon culture, commitments, promises
Even though losing the match was not her plan, she remained
honest to her own sports code, not because of any external
force, but rather because of her own internal drive to
sustain personal and professional values.
Finally, Serena exhibited character -- the ability to
treat an opponent, win or lose, as a worthy competitor.
As a friend of mine says: "It is not what happens
to you that matters nearly as much as how you respond
to what happens to you."