Winning from the brink of defeat

I woke up this morning, to the delightful news of the Sania-Martina victory at Wimbeldon. It was a hard fought win (5-7, 7-6, 7-5), with their opponents having been a game away from the championship on three serves.

Picked off the tv
Picked off the tv, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza win Wimbeldon 2015

As much as I wanted to, I wasn’t able to stay up to watch the much awaited Women’s Doubles final last night, but reading about it and watching bits and pieces of the highlights took me back to another match over 36 years ago.

During the summer of 1979, my parents, brother and I were visiting relatives and friends in Europe. Apart from the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar clinical environment we were in, one of the novelties of such a trip for young children was something we did not have in India – the television screen!

For brief periods now and then, like us, our friends in Germany were glued to the television too. One such time was to watch Vijay Amritraj play Bjorn Borg in the second round of the Men’s Singles at Wimbeldon. Borg had already won several Grand Slam titles so he was famous in India. We children had not only heard of him but would also recognise him in any crowd – with his characteristic long hair neatly held back by a striped headband. Hair loose and slight facial hair, Borg was almost a heavenly picture… if I was to choose someone to play the role of Jesus Christ in any movie, it would be him. The thought of actually seeing Borg play, even if it was on TV was exciting.

Borg’s reputation of demolishing his opponents gave our Indian hero Vijay, not much of a chance, but Vijay was at his playing best. Every point was ernestly fought for, Vijay was leading by two sets to one, and in the fourth, he almost toppled the defending champion! The images of Vijay at the base line, with his holy cross pendant dangling around his neck, and often in his mouth, made a lasting impression on my 9-year old mind. He played hard and with utmost faith but lady luck was not on his side.

Much like Sania-Hingis, Borg finally came back from the brink of defeat, ultimately going on to win his fourth consecutive Wimbeldon title (2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2).

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