Good sportsmanship, among the current millennial generation, is lacking in today’s social media environment. The impact that we have on a person or team that we’ve played hard to defeat, followed by the humility to uplift the defeated as one worthy of honor, is a lesson that seems lost in today’s sporting atmosphere.
Then, there’s Serena Williams.
Serena has been a role model on so many varying levels to young athletes in this century; we saw the fruits of her leadership on display at the U.S. Open between the up and coming star Coco Guaff and the No. 1 world ranked Naomi Osaka.
Coco is all gas when she’s winning. Her passions are on full display, pumping the crowd up and drawing everyone in to her energy and emotion as a young tennis phenom.
Naomi, in contrast, is more reserved, more poised and displays external control of her emotions on the court. She’s focused and precise in her actions on the court.
Both are a reflection of the person that they idolize: Serena Williams.
When Naomi beat Coco in their third round match at the U.S. Open earlier this year, Coco was crying, visibly distraught. The crowd was stunned, audibly sharing in Coco’s pain at losing the match, yet cheering for Naomi—the winner.
What happened next, however, is a lesson for us all—especially if you’re an athlete and competitor.
Naomi approached Coco, gave her hug, and asked “Would you join me on the court for the post-game interview, please?”
Coco was visibly strug- gling with her feelings. She said “No, I’ll be crying the whole time. I can’t.”
Naomi gently coaxed her, saying, “Please, it would be my honor for you to join me.”
This is a moment that we rarely see in today’s athletic competitions.
In today’s world with all its chest pounding, sideline antics; posting for likes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; focusing on my individual statistics—“Look at me! I did that! I’m the best!”—these two young athletes actually give us hope that true sportsman- ship isn’t lost and that class still exists.
Winning with humility and losing with honor was on full display in that moment at the U.S. Open this year thanks to Coco, Naomi and Serena.