When a Tennis Champion Loses the Number One Spot
(Tennis article by Randy Lynn Rutledge - a former USPTA tennis teaching professional)
This article was written after Roger Federer lost his number one ATP ranking in the sport of tennis.
Roger Federer has accomplished more than most tennis players will ever accomplish. It is very sad that we treat sports figures like royalty when they are at the top of their sport, because we are setting them up for a huge fall when they are on the way down from the top.
Typically, it is the fans of the up-and-coming sports heroes who treat the previous number one as if they are a common bum. They can't see down the road and realize that their guy is traveling down a similar road.
The news media and average sports fans are responsible for how lofty the perch is where their sports heroes are lifted to, and how far the fall can be when they must come down.
Roger Federer's story is not unique. Of course, Roger Federer hopes to collect more tennis titles and records, but he has a huge distraction from his tennis that was not part of the story for most of his climb to the top, his family. I suspect that his fatherly instincts have become much greater than his tennis hunger, or any remaining tennis ambitions.
I admire any man or woman, in any sport, who has been able to defy the odds and take his or her ability far above average to become a great champion. In my eyes, a past champion deserves our respect simply because of what they were able to accomplish in the time of their own prime, mentally and physically.
The fact that every champion will gradually lose their mental and physical edge to younger and quicker athletes can never diminish, in any way, what each champion was able to accomplish against other athletes who were in the prime of their life at the same time.