A trophy in waiting

Helga’s Post # 85: Sorry to make this post short, but Wimbledon AND World Cup Soccer occurring at the same time are challenging my daily routine. I am not a huge fan of watching sports on television, but I do so occasionally. The dynamics of the players and their mental aspect that is so much a part of the outcome never fail to intrigue me.

What would you think of an opening paragraph to a novel, or perhaps a chapter to a novel, that reads this way:

‘Eugenie Bouchard sat in a room just off Centre Court watching the engraver etch the champion’s name onto the Wimbledon trophy. It seemed like a cruel punishment: It was Petra Kvitova’s name, not hers, that was being put on the Venus Rosewater Dish that goes to the women’s winner.’

It could be a nice start to a novel. But this did in fact take place, in London, yesterday. Life tends to get this way.

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As all tennis-watching Canadians, I cheered when young (just turned twenty) Eugenie Bouchard became the first Canadian to reach the final of a Grand Slam at Wimbledon. Audiences everywhere, as well as pundits, speculated that Genie would have a good chance to win the title. Fearless on the court, well spoken and mature beyond her years, she was a pleasure to watch. She could do no wrong. The world of tennis embraced her instantly. A new star was born.

She had it all. “Eugenie Bouchard the talk of the town at Wimbledon 2014” headlines screamed. A poised and self-confident Bouchard told ESPN before the finals match that she was “really excited,” and can’t wait to play. “It’s my first Grand Slam final, so I’m just going to go for it.”

Then the unthinkable happened: Her opponent, Czech Petra Kvitova stepped up her game and played the best anyone has ever seen her play. “A powerful runaway train,” the media called Kvitova’s game. In just 55 minutes the Czech defeated Bouchard to snatch the coveted Wimbledon title. The tennis world was stunned. What happened?

Her fans felt deflated. Confused. They tried to cheer her on at the few times she scored a point. At the same time, one could sense the increasing frustration at seeing how their idol’s game deteriorated.

What a great character she could be in a novel. Not just as a tennis player. Anyone. A young woman, talented to the nines in some kind of field, any field, reaching dizzying heights. Her success, her achievements beyond anyone’s expectations shaping her to who she has become. Until a blistering defeat, just when she felt nothing could ever stop her, sucked her into a vortex she may never be able to return from.

But she does. Finding a way back from a hero’s darkest moment. And that could be what the book is about: a protagonist battling her internal demons to learn what she is made of in this, her darkest moment. To find her way back and turn her downfall into a springboard for her next great moment. The moment that will maker her stronger and will shape her for the rest of her life.

She is a familiar archetype in fiction. She has been created many time before and successfully so. We love to join a protagonist on that tough, life-changing journey. It’s a common story, yet it intrigues us time and again because it mirrors life in all its complexities.

As for Genie Bouchard, she will never give up. She’ll wake up tomorrow, determined to do better next time. Hungrier for success than ever. To become the champion she feels she deserves to be. Perhaps she will find a way into my writing. It may not be in center court, but life hardly ever happens there.

3 thoughts on “A trophy in waiting

  1. It’s the kind of story we can all relate to because it gives us hope – hope that we can rise from the dark and defeated places to triumph in the world. I’ve seen it in figure skating over and over. The fans go wild when it happens!
    A

    • Thanks, Alison and Don, yes, indeed, it’s a story of hope. There is so much time in our life we tend to squander on things that don’t matter at all in the end, things dictated by the necessities of survival. But sooner or later we commit to a cause that will stick.

  2. When I watch sport, like you, I think about what it means to the participants – I often wonder particularly about those sportspeople who are destined always to take part but never to win.

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