Four Amish children killed by a gunman. The Amish forgive him. That’s what they recite and teach and repeat in sacred words each day.
“Hit the ball as hard as you can.” That’s what Mary’s father said. Situps, pushups, weights, running. Bruises on the arms. Verbal and physical abuse. Mary stays longer and longer in the women’s locker room. He cannot enter there.
Winning the Australian Open Final, 1995: Mary slaps herself repeatedly, strikes herself with the racquet. Hard, quick anger again and again. Deep sighs not breaths, an attempt to relieve anxiety. Twitches and more twitches. Bending and stretching the back, the arms, the quads, the knees. Rotating or spinning the left wrist and arm back and forth, back and forth. Loss of a point engendering disbelief on her face and throughout her body. After missing a first serve, Mary’s quick turn to get a second ball from the ball boy. So quick it’s a snap, a moment of anger. Five years hence, Mary will give her life fully to Christ.
Winning the French Open Final, 2000. Meditative calm on changeovers. Quiet, closed eyelids of peace. Movements controlled. Simple, deep breaths. Not Zen, but Christianity. Mary herself will tell you that. Her simple black dress. Her necklace of pearls as she becomes the only French woman to win the French Open in the open era. The harder work begins: forgive her father. Then the hardest work begins: love her father. Forgive, not forget. That’s what the black South Africans say.
For more on Mary Pierce, you can check out her page at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
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