Posted by: Trisha Leigh | January 24, 2012

An Open Letter to Andy Roddick

I’m a huge tennis fan. Somehow, over the last four or five years, I’ve also become a big Andy Roddick fan. There are many reasons, and I’ve written before about the ways he inspires me in my writing.

Today, though, he’s the one who needs the talking to. From what I can tell. I think. I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen. On occasion.

Like last weekend when I ate that cookie dough that was a little crusty on the outside. That…was not the right call.

But I digress.

Here’s my letter. Just in case.

Dear Andy Roddick –

Tough break in Australia. I listened intently when you talked of what this year means to you. How hard you’ve worked to prepare your body, to change your game, to make sure you’re ready. How important it is for you to reclaim your spot in the top ten, because you still feel like you belong there. And it made me smile, because I believe it too. I had some choice words for the announcers and bloggers writing you off, saying you’re no longer relevant, that you’re too old.

Then you went out in the first round, and boy did your game look fantastic. The match with Hewitt was sure to be a tough one, but I felt confident. If you’re both having your best day, it’s a good match but one you will win almost every time.

Then it happened. The ten seconds, the awkward lunge that changed the course of the tournament for you.

But it doesn’t have to change your season. Or your career. Not if you don’t want it to.

That look on your face while you toughed out another set and a half, it worries me. Defeat, depression, and maybe just the hint of they’re all right, I can’t do this hung in your typically defiant gaze.

Heck yeah, it’s frustrating. No doubt you want to punch something, break something, and spend a couple of days talking about quitting and wondering why you’re putting yourself through this, and why for the love of Pete can’t you catch a break.

But then you calm down, you pick up the pieces, and you make a game plan.

You remind me a little of Chipper Jones, another athlete with a special place in my heart. He’s old (older than you). He’s played baseball a long time, and every year he answers questions about retirement. If he hadn’t been injured, he might have retired with Bobby Cox. If the Braves had made it back to the playoffs last year, instead of the massive implosion they suffered last September, maybe he would have been done already. But he isn’t.

A bum knee isn’t going to decide when he’s done. Neither is his age, or the fact that other people think it’s time. Chipper wants to go out on his own terms, and only he knows what those are – it might be making it back to the playoffs, or having a healthy year, or just that he feels like playing 182 games a year is what he wants to be doing. And when he does retire, no one is going to remember the bum knee, or the games he missed, or that maybe his last five years weren’t as outstanding as his first ten. He’s going into the Hall of Fame, maybe even on the first ballot.

You have the same right. You’re a great tennis player, one we’ve been proud to root for the past ten years. Only you get to decide if an injury is going to end your career. Only you get to admit you have nothing left to give the game.

I’ve had a rough year too. I think my stories are ready for the big stage. Other people disagreed. I’ve had a few painful setbacks, and yes, I’ve seen a similar they’re all right, I can’t do this look in my own eyes.

That’s when people like you and me have to look at those assholes and (excuse my French) say fuck you. I’ll do what I damn well please, and nothing you can say, no unexpected setback, is going to make me quit unless I’m ready, so get the hell out of my head.

And one day you’ll be ready. That day will be bittersweet for you, and for your fans.

But don’t let it be because they said.

Let it be because you can walk away and be happy with the contributions you’ve made, the achievements you’ve reached. If playing tennis 10 months a year still makes you happy, if those moments after you win a big match are still what lights you up, then it’s not time to go.

So chin up. Rehab your leg. Get your brain back in order, because we all know you’ve got to be mentally tough to keep fighting when people are whispering behind your back that you’re crazy for trying.

You’re not crazy. Neither am I. We’re fighters.

And fighters? We do everything on our own terms.

Figure out what those terms are, because eventually there won’t be anyone to answer to but yourself.

XOXO

Gossip Girl – Er – ME

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