I don’t know whether, like me, you caught the Australian Open tennis finals over the weekend.
There are two things I want to briefly comment on.
First, the age of the four finalists. 30, 35, 35 and 36. A terrific demonstration of the ageing process shifting.
Just as elite athletes are competing at the top longer, the rest of us mere mortals are also generally living longer, healthier lives. It has big implications for so much of what we do and how we plan as individuals, businesses, brands, communities and governments.
Second, all four of the athletes epitomised what we love about sport. Grace, strength, commitment, integrity, athleticism, superb skill and fair play.
Venus did so well to get to a Grand Slam Final, considering she’s been dealing with an auto-immune disease known as Sjogren’s Syndrome for the past six years.
Her overwhelming emotion when Serena won in straight sets 6-4 6-4 was not disappointment. She didn’t pout on the sidelines. She demonstrated and spoke of her pride in her sister’s achievements of making it 23 grand slam singles titles – just one behind the great Margaret Court.
Likewise, Serena referred to Venus as her inspiration, saying there would be no Williams sisters without her.
Their mutual support is no show for the public. All credit to them and their parents and the rest of the family for developing and maintaining such a strong and loving bond.
Then there was the Men’s Final.
Wow. If you didn’t watch it, do yourself a favour and at least watch the last set.
Proving that not everyone involved in sport in Switzerland is bad, the great Roger Federer defeated the wonderful Rafael Nadal in five sets, 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3.
In the final set, Federer who was coming back from a knee injury and recent years of – for him – relatively indifferent form against one of his great rivals, was 1-3 down before he fought back to win. The defining moment is surely this 26-shot rally which is simply stunning.
It was Federer’s 18th grand slam singles title, ahead of both Pete Sampras and Nadal on 14.
Federer and Nadal, two giants of the game, didn’t have any tantrums, didn’t throw their racquets, didn’t swear at the referee, lines people or ball kids. They just did what they do best. Play scintillating tennis.
Serena, Venus, Rafael, Roger … Thanks. It’s a great start to the new year to remind us of what sport is about and why we love it. It inspires us to keep going with our contribution to help make sport better for all those who play it and love it.
What a privilege.