Monday, May 31, 2021

Marta shines in win over Muguruza, brings life back to sports and my blog


So, it's been a while.

Between COVID-19, my job changing in a major way, things are not the same and I haven't been able to write, or maybe I just needed something to fire me up and get the juices flowing again.

I hope to write on this blog, once a week for now. Maybe giving an update on the world of sports, or maybe just tennis (who knows) each week.

The reason I'm writing today is all about tennis. To say it was an eventful day at the French Open would be an understatement. 

Obviously, there was the Naomi Osaka news. That was big and I wrote a separate blog post about that.

But the reason I am so excited to write is the win by my favorite player 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk! She beat No. 12 Garbine Muguruza, 6-1, 6-4. What a win! I know Mugz was injured, but Marta played great. For me it was one of the best sporting moments of the past year and it felt good to be so happy about something in sports again.

I'm not going to lie I've been a little down on Marta lately, mainly because she wasn't playing. I was annoyed that she was missing out on chances to gain experience and valuable points in smaller tournaments. 

It turns out she's been battling injuries and still dealing with some COVID-19 issues (which I thought she had put behind her, but COVID hit her very hard). It goes to show you never really know what's going on with someone until they tell you (much like Naomi's mental health issues).

But let's get to today's match! Marta looked great. She served great, she was aggressive, she turned defense into offense and when she plays like this she's tough to beat!

I was so proud of her and it's the best I've felt about sports in a long time. It's tough when you root for the up and coming players, because there's going to be tough times and hard losses. But it's moments like this that make the ride worth it. When you're reminded how great they are and the potential they have and why you root for them in the first place.

The best part was seeing Marta's joy at the end, seeing her celebrate with her family (it brought tears to my eyes). Only they know what she's really been through.

Marta is just getting started and I hope she goes a long way. I hope she wins it all. But either way, it's great to have her back. It's great to be a fan again and see a moment like that after all the tough times we've all been through. 

Lessons to be learned from Osaka

 I'll admit I was wrong.

That's a start. I, like many, thought that Naomi Osaka didn't have real mental health issues. That she was misusing the words because she was afraid of questions at the French Open. Even some people with mental health issues were doing the same. But we all should have known that you never truly know what someone is going through unless you really know them. I apologize for not believing her. 

The recent attention on Naomi's desire to not do press conferences finally came to a halt today with her withdrawing from the French Open, which I think makes us all a little sad. It should not have come to this -- but it did. We can only hope that things will get better from here.

I, have been part of the tennis (as well as other professional/college sports) media, and I know things can be improved. It can be especially improved in tennis where you're dealing with teenage kids. Teenage kids who are being thrown into the spotlight way to early and have way too much burden thrown on them, when they're still trying to figure out who they really are.

Naomi said today that she has struggled with mental health since winning her first slam. She's always been an introvert and so it shouldn't be a surprise that she might struggle with all the popularity and fame that comes with being a big-time athlete.

Mental health is a very serious thing and no one should take it lightly. I think we've all struggled with mental health in some way, especially during the pandemic. No one has perfect mental health, and I think it's always a work in progress for all of us.

It took a lot of guts for her to go through this and I'm proud of her effort and letting everyone know about her struggles. I know that can't be easy. 

Only Naomi knows what she's been through, but I hope that she takes the time and gets the help she needs and only then comes back. I hope that changes are made to make things better for athletes, especially ones that are still teenagers. 

I have no doubt that if she can take the time and get her mental health back on track she can help make a difference for others. Naomi is a great champion and a great leader and role model for younger people. 

I have no doubt she will once again be lifting grand slam trophies and she will be stronger for what she has been through.