2009 Wimbledon Preview: Serena Williams—Depravity in Paradise
In an episode of the American sitcom, 'Seinfeld', Jerry contemplates breaking up with a girl he is dating. The reason? She is too nice.
Then he asks a question that is very telling: "Where is the depravity?" Seinfeld is known for its portrayal of life's universal truths in a kitschy, but accurate manner. However, even Seinfeld outdoes itself when it recognizes that one of the constants in our life is our craving for the dark side.
We always have, and probably always will like our heroes flawed.
In Biblical times, Sampson's legendary strength lay in his hair, and once Delilah cut off his seven locks, he loses his strength. In Greek mythology, Homer's The Iliad, Achilles' heel made him mortal, but he is immortalized in modern lexicon. The term is literally used to denote a flaw in an otherwise perfect being. A demi-god if you will.
This desire to see the proverbial chink in our heroes' armours is not limited to the West. In Hindu mythology, which far predates the Greeks, Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu and the main protagonist in the Hindu epic, The Mahabharata, is killed by the arrow of a mere hunter who shoots an arrow into his foot, causing him to bleed to death.
Why do we suffer from this sadistic desire to see our heroes flawed?
I am going to answer this question in much the same way that Deep Thought, the quirky supercomputer in Douglas Adams' classic, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' answers the ultimate question of 'life, the universe and everything' posed by hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings. With a number: 8.
That's the length of a blade of grass in millimeters in every single court in the pristine lawns of the All England Lawn Tennis and Crouquet Club, or simply Wimbledon. A veritable oasis in the harsh desert that is professional tennis in the 21st century. A lush, green paradise, where even the strawberries are perfectly dimpled. Nothing is out of place.
In short, everything is perfect.
Some might even call it boring, but good boring. What can possibly make it better?
Why, some depravity of course.
Serena Williams brings it in spades. Before you fly off the handle in righteous rage, allow me to explain.
After one of her matches at the French Open last month, she casually mentioned that drama follows her around. And not unlike one of her blistering forehands past her hapless opponents, this statement is dead on the mark.
They say drama is composed of equal measure of humor and pathos. Both are base emotions. In medieval times people had a morbid fear of the performing arts and theater, thinking it corrupted the religious beliefs of the masses with its depravity.
Even the famous bard whose hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon is exactly 100 miles northwest of Wimbledon wasn't spared and had to conduct his literary machinations in a clandestine fashion.
Serena is that unique athlete that combines a singular desire to win with an equally impressive ability to vex and madden. Very few athletes have this disposition in all of sports, let alone tennis.
John McEnroe was of course another master of these dark arts.
Perfection scares us. If even our Gods cannot be perfect, what right do we ordinary mortals have to endeavor to reach this higher plane?
Athletes such as Serena Williams offer us an escape from our cookie-cutter heroes. They provide the alter-ego of the all-conquering, all-pleasing champion by giving us a more human alternative. The Anti-Federer if you will.
Serena probably won't win this tournament. This is one place where the game of her older sibling Venus, trumps hers. However, you can be sure of one thing. The renegades among us, the ones who crave for the hedonistic red streak in the pearly white canvas of Wimbledon will be rooting for the anti-hero. The hero for the fallen, for the depraved.
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