Everybody loves a comeback and the clearly recorded wins and losses in sports lend a certain simplicity and focus to such stories. Rocky, Rudy, and Friday Night Lights all highlight victories of one sort or another in the face of adversity.
At a young age Croatian tennis pro Mirjana Lucic-Baroni was a rising star with a string of successes, most notably winning the women's doubles title at the 1998 Australian Open. She was only 15-years-old. In the following years, she experienced many hardships, fewer successes, and eventually stopped playing in 2003. A few years later she embarked on an uphill return to professional tennis.
Fast forward to the 2017 Australian open when Mirjana had a moment. The veteran defeated her 21 year old opponent to win a spot in the quarterfinals - 18 years after the last time she reached this point in a major tournament.
Immediately after the match, the on court interviewer acknowledged her longevity and overcoming the odds and asked, "What would you say to anyone else who is having a tough time out on the tour?"
Mirjana initially spoke about her toughness and how hard she had worked. Then, she hesitated and said she couldn't say what she really wanted to because she would be fined.
The interviewer prompted her to share anyway, "Oh go for it. Go for it!" and swept up in the moment, that was all the encouragement she needed.
With a touch of defiance beneath her composed exterior she shared this advice,
"F everything and everybody, whoever tells you you can't do it. Just show up and do it with your heart."
The crowd applauded and whistled in support. If you've been struggling for a while now or are just down and out and need a kick start, I dare you to watch the interview and not feel inspired.
Note: She would win her next match, too, before going on to the semifinals and losing to Serena Williams, the eventual champion. To me, that's still a fairy tale ending and worth the price of admission.
Next post Saturday, 6:30 a.m.