The hardest ghosts to slay …
Pressure is a very strange thing, isn’t it? Turns otherwise sane people into mad-folk; turns super-star athletes into tightly strung wrecks. It’s been said that she believes her worst opponent, her greatest critic, is herself. I don’t think it’s that, though – Not any more.
She’s not playing herself, she’s playing history and time – I don’t think there can be much stiffer opposition than those twin-evils, can there?
It’s not like a regular opponent, is it? Even the second greatest player in the world – or that opponent that you just never seem to be able to beat, your nemesis – might have an off day. Today might be the day that opponent collapses and you finally get your win.
History never has an off-day. It sits there, always the same, never moving, never changing. It’s not even on the court – Instead it laughs at you on paper, messes with your head. History has an easy life – It’s done its thing, can you do yours?
Time never runs backwards, never stands still. You’ve only got so much of it, however hard you try to compete with it – to slow it down – it still ticks away at exactly the same rate. One day it will get you and – however hard you try – sometimes you think that day will come too soon.
Put the two together and I don’t think it’s any wonder every racket she picks up is either too slack or too tight. I don’t think it’s any wonder she sometimes moves like one of the Wooden Tops. Or that she treats every point like it’s for the Championship.
No one else cares, do they? But – even if she tells herself it isn’t the case – She cares. Everyone probably tells her that it doesn’t matter – Just go out and enjoy it, or what’s the point? You’ll still be remembered as one of the greatest ever players – Which is true … and absolutely not the point.
Once, being the greatest must have seemed like just a dream. Then it became a dream she could achieve. Finally, could became should.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
So now – at every Major – Every opponent she plays has the Number Twenty-Four on their shirt and is wearing a Margaret Court face-mask.
Playing history. Playing time. Serena Williams – Ghost Fighter.