1992-1993 : It was the time when Television came to our Home and became a part of our lives. The cricket and tennis matches shown in Doordarshan made me a fan of these 2 sports forever now!
So the era of sibling rivalry of supporting the favorites started. My brother chose Seles, I chose Graf. My brother chose Sampras, I chose Agassi! But then the way these tennis players inspired us, it was very tough to not like them!
So when the news of Monica Seles stabbing incident came, it shocked us! There was a gloom in our house as if a member of the house had been stabbed. Why the hatred for a tennis professional! Later only I would get to read more such freaking incidents courtesy insane fans of sports world.
I had always wondered what went through Seles mind and even when she did come back, how she was coping with all this! We can’t imagine the kind of lifestyle they live in and can only be envious!
So finally I got a chance to read Monica Seles’s book : Getting a Grip : On my Game,My Body, My Mind... My Self.
Normally I do not follow the books released by Sports persons about themselves so I missed this until one of my friends told me!
This book has left a lasting impression on me as Seles tells us about her journey into Tennis and how she became a Pro and then the stabbing and the scars it had left. When things don’t go well, nothing goes well. Her story and struggles of her own demons,the struggles of her father's health and death, the growing weight/food issue and she has tried to cope with them makes us realize that all these sportspersons who become celebrities, thanks to the popularity of the sports, are also mere human beings with their own basic needs and are sensitive just like any of us.
The impending question of her grunts, or weight, or retirement when it was unnecessary and how it affects her game or life is just a sample.
The mistakes she made, the weaknesses she had in between the complete journey and the fear of failures that made her always be in the comfort zone and the “please everyone” mentality – each of these she had to change based on her experience and the struggles is heartwarming to read!
The fact that she realized and tried to do something beyond tennis like coming in a reality show to just see what happens is really commendable. It’s easy for us to sit and judge and say why does this celebrity do different things, but as she mentioned, when she realized she might not be able to play, the hard hitting fact that she does not know anything except tennis is the sad truth and unless the person tries his/her hand in something else, it’s going to be a very tough life. The problem they face is the questions others ask and especially what’s written about them by media and critics which affects their decisions!
One of the strong things that came from the book is that – it’s the mind which plays more game with us and is the key to anything we want to achieve in life.
As I was reading the book, when she mentions about self-doubts she had or the losses she had because she had to change her style because someone mentioned that is how she should play or when she feels the fun in the game is gone and how she tries to seek it, truly makes me contemplate on my life and journey.
As a fan, we enjoy sports for the sheer joy of the game but the sad truth is that anywhere it’s the money which talks. As Seles mentions about the sponsors and tournaments etc and her own self-realization that Tennis is not just a sports or about sportsmanship but overall a business which affects her own mindset and makes her get depressed during her recovery days is very heartwarming!
To read this book: If you know Tennis and a bit about the background of tennis and players, you would relate a lot to the tournaments she mentions. Even if you do not know about tennis, the mere struggle she has gone through would make you relate. This book is very easy read and doesn’t have the “gyan”. It just tells about her life and struggle.
P.S - Am going to revisit this book whenever I feel down,. If Seles could do it with all the demons facing her, ofcourse I can for whatever is the stupid problems I have in life! :)