The sports world – and the rest of us – were shocked this June by news that tennis star Venus Williams was involved in a car accident that fatally injured a passenger in the other car. The police immediately declared her guilty – with damaging headlines .
Life and death – and culpability – are certainly more momentous than tennis matches. But for Williams the timing was especially difficult. It was just weeks before she was due to play at Wimbledon for what might be her last chance at the championship.
If it had been me, I would have curled into a corner obsessing about fate. (Why didn’t I drive down a different street? Why did I drive at all that day? ad infinitum.)
But Williams is made of tougher material. She’s been well trained, because despite having Sjogren’s syndrome, an anti-immune disease that weakens the muscles, she’s refused to give up tennis.
Williams admits she was “devastated and heartbroken,” by the car accident. But during the anxiety-ridden time before she was cleared of wrongdoing, she didn’t retreat into hiding. Instead she resolutely showed up on the tennis court every morning to practice. “This is what Venus does,” a friend explained. “She goes to where her strength is.”
Each of us might profit from asking ourselves, where and how can I strengthen myself when everything seems against me? I remember a widow I interviewed for my book “Turning Toward Tomorrow.” Since she was only in her fifties, there was a “a long road to look down,” she said. To fortify herself she went on her knees – not just to pray – but to garden. “Putting my hands in the soil sort of orders me,” she said.
I, personally, am not much of a gardener. Yet thoug the method may differ for each of us, the goal is the same: To find whatever gives us the ability to survive. As I’ve discovered, this doesn’t come from the cookie jar or the wine bottle, but from returning to whatever makes you feel special and strong. Or, as Venus might put it, like a champion.
When I’m too stressed to feel like “bothering” with anything, forcing myself to the computer to write just one sentence can ignite a change. For one sentence can lead to two…and three.. . . and before I know it, I’m writing. Which is my way of hitting the ball over the net again.
BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk”-available through iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow” – Xlibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor”” and “Role Play” –CreateSpace.com and Amazon. Also Amazon Kindle.