Naomi and Serena

Dear President Trump,

It’s been one of those on the edge of tears days and I just decided to go with it. I played melancholy music while I cooked dinner from the recipe book our brother-in-law (BIL) gave us years ago. I don’t know whether you find this to be the case with your parents or your brother, but doing things that he and I used to enjoy together helps me feel closer to him even though he doesn’t exist as a him anymore. Of course I’ve known that people talk with their dead friends and relatives all the time, but I didn’t appreciate how comforting it is to work at keeping such relationships going even though the other person can’t participate any more. I made one of his favorite Israeli rice dishes and it was really good.

Earlier in the day I read a wonderful article about the young tennis star, Naomi Osaka, who played Serena Williams in the finals of the US Open today. Osaka is quoted as saying that she was able to hang in and win her tough semi-final match because she really, really wanted to play Williams in the finals. She said she wanted to see if she could push Williams to where she’d be yelling to herself to “come on!” When the reporter asked Osaka what she’d like to say to Williams, she replied “I love you?” It was so incredibly sweet and so not what I expected that it brought the tears past the edge for a minute.

Then there was the match. We didn’t watch it but read about it later. It sounds like it was dreadful and that the umpire mishandled the situation badly, charging Williams not only a penalty point, but a penalty game for what hardly looked like infractions. The article said John McEnroe was only ever charged one penalty point in his whole career, which we all know was characterized by absolutely over the top yelling and arguing. But a strong African American woman who speaks up for herself? Bam! She’s outrageously punished. Of course. But then, but then…., she returned the love to Osaka. Williams got the crowd to stop booing and made it clear that she didn’t want Osaka’s first win to be sullied by what had happened, she wanted Osaka to be able to celebrate her accomplishment. Incredibly sweet and generous and exactly what was needed.

May we be safe to be tender towards our opponents.
May we be happy to stay clear about one another’s humanity from the far side of the net.
May we be healthy and strong enough to handle strong emotions coming from women.
May we look to brave, strong women for lessons on peace-making. And love.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

One thought on “Naomi and Serena

  1. No she didn’t return the love in any way. Thinking I am glad in my son’s sport that he can be ejected from the game for such behavior. At least he learns something then. Not really sure what John McEnroe’s exploits of years ago have to do with anything unless his matches had the same officials as Serena’s. You have to wonder what Naomi’s family and loved ones think about the reaction of the American crowd.

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