Tatjana Maria’s grand slam record before reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2022: 13 losses in qualifying rounds, 23 losses in the first round; 10 losses in the second round, 1 loss in the third round. In other words, her greatest success by far comes at age 34 a year after giving birth to her second child. Nothing quite like this has happened before. Now she’s an inspiration to many mothers, older women, and late bloomers of every kind.
Tatjana Maria and I share a birthday: August 8. We also share a heavy reliance on a shot few people rely on any more: the heavy forehand slice. “My slice is definitely my first shot, especially on grass,” Maria says. The heavy forehand slice slithers on the ground like a serpent. It scares you a little while tempting your ego as well. You know you are better than it with your bigger, better topspin shots. Get this shit out of here, you think. But it keeps slithering your way. So you have to stoop more, bend over. Get lower than you want again and again till you wake up the next morning and your buttocks and brains are sore. “Of course, you will not die” the Serpent says. “God knows that as soon as you eat the fruit your eyes will be opened and you will be like Gods.” “Of course, you will not lose,” the heavy forehand slice says. “Just hit aggressive shots with more pace and you will certainly win the match.” “Don’t you want to go for more, play tennis as it’s meant to be played?” So you overreach, make errors. That is the human condition.
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