We need to separate what tennis has to offer us from what man does. Tennis can only offer us the opportunity to search for our athletic potential. Man offers us more tangible things like money and notoriety. We cannot confuse the two and expect to be happy.
Tennis is invaluable to the world because it gives us the chance to become, discover, and change ourselves. We must all learn basic technique and strategy, but then we are free to play whatever percentages we want; the real world only offers few people this choice. We can face pressure situations, physical thresholds, and mental boundaries every time we step on court. Falling to and overcoming these obstacles again and again are the experiences we truly value as athletes.
Man can offer us things tennis cannot. Man gives us money, fame, societal standing, and acceptance; tennis does not know the difference between a beginner and Roger Federer. Tennis is an equal opportunity employer. Man is fickle, and cares outlandishly too much about results that are not truly within the control of the athlete.
As a society we need to make clear what tennis has to offer us versus what man has to offer; confusing the two only dilutes both. We need to understand and make clear that when a player pumps his fists he’s celebrating his own achievement in holding his nerve and executing his plan; he is not celebrating the misery he just caused his opponent. The thoughtful athlete plays to prove himself through tennis, not to prove himself in the minds of other men. If we approach tennis thoughtfully, it can exercise our spirit and mind as much as it does our body.