Saturday night, twenty-one-year-old Naomi Osaka, the number one tennis player in the world, defeated 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff at the U.S. Open. Their match was highly anticipated, and the result was what many expected with Osaka winning easily over the younger player. But what she did next was completely unexpected. In an unprecedented move, she asked Coco to stay on the court with her and join her in the after-match interview. They shared the spotlight, complimenting and admiring each other’s games.
Naomi gave Coco the chance to leave the court with her head held high. I think about how different the feelings must have been for Coco. Instead of hurrying to get into the locker room where she could cry her tears of disappointment in private, she stayed on the court. Tears were shed, but she was praised by the number one player in the world.
Watching 15-year-old Coco I couldn’t help but think of how she could be my daughter. How would it feel to sit in the stands watching my daughter, who is almost fifteen, play in prime time, on the biggest stage of her career? How off the court she’s still fifteen, with hormones, insecurities and social stresses of the teenage years. But instead of walking back to the locker room, replaying the match, feeling the weight of the loss, I’d like to think she walked off feeling a little more hopeful. By staying on the court for the shared interview, the dynamic changed. When she finally left the court, she signed a few autographs autographs and likely heard shouts of encouragement from fans in the stands.
These touching moments seem few and far between in sports. Sports culture prioritizes competition, strength, fierceness and rivalry. While we hear of many good deeds done off the field by superstars helping their community, it’s rare that we see something like this happen on the playing surface.
When I first started writing, I couldn’t have pinpointed what it was about this moment that made it so special. And little while later, I found the word I was looking for – compassion. Naomi showed Coco pure compassion. She had been in that position and in the moment, it wasn’t about protocol or what should “normally” happen after a match.
Compassion is such a delicate, but powerful word. What would happen if we approached more people in our daily interactions with compassion? Not only the people we interact with in public or in our place of work, but also those that reside with us under our own roof. Yes, we love them with all our heart, but when they are on our last nerve or forget to do something for the millionth time, what if we could view the situation through the eyes of compassion for what they are going through? We think they know better and should do better. We must remember, no matter what their age, they are still growing, trying to make sense of big feelings. We don’t have to condone their behavior however if we view it through the eyes of compassion our entire experience will change.
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Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.