Win when you play YOUR game

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Roberta Vinci of Italy serves to Serena Williams of the United States during their Women's Singles Semifinals match on Day Twelve of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 11: Roberta Vinci of Italy serves to Serena Williams of the United States during their Women’s Singles Semifinals match on Day Twelve of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

The greatest tennis player in the world is out of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams’ title defense ended on Friday afternoon at the hands of an unseeded Italian by the name of Roberta Vinci. Williams and Vinci grinded out a three-set match to the raucous cheers of the New York crowd.

The two players’ intensity and skill were on display throughout the match. Williams is out now, but we should take a minute to celebrate one of the most memorable upsets in tennis history. It was, to put it simply, sports at its finest.  (HuffPost)

What do you do when the world watches you play the absolute best woman’s tennis player in the world in the semifinals of the US Open Tennis Grand Slam Tournament?

You can only play your game.  That’s what Roberta Vinci did. She played HER game. She’s not a powerhouse server. She’s finesse. She controls her pace. It’s slower. She’s top spin. She’s drop shot. Serena had to massively adjust her game from playing her sister Venus – and other powerhouses in the tournament to playing the gracefulness of Vinci.

And still Vinci stayed with her own game. She didn’t try to become what she isn’t. She simply kept playing her game.

She dropped the first set. Won the second set.  And it was tense in the third set.  Yet, by playing her game, she managed to beat Serena. She proclaimed it to be “the best moment of my life.”

And then she went on to win the hearts of the people. The post-match interviewer asked her “When you woke up this morning, what gave you the belief that you could win?”  Vinci replied, “No. It’s not possible.”

“I woke up today and said, ‘you have the semi-final today – try to enjoy. Don’t think about Serena. Play. Enjoy.’ I didn’t expect to win.”

“As you got to the end, what did you have to fight?”

“In my mind, I just say – ‘Put the ball on the court! Just put the ball on the court! Don’t think about Serena on the other court. Don’t think and run! Don’t think and run!”

“Today was just my day.”  She was irrepressible.

It’s all we can do. Play our game. Hold on to our own individual gifts and style. What we’ve spent a lifetime becoming.

This reminds me of a program I offer called Women Leading with GraceToo many women in coaching ask me “Who do I have to become to succeed?”  This worries me. The answer: Yourself.  Grace is powerful.  The river is graceful and powerful.  The river has strong banks to contain its power. We, too, can develop our “banks” to hold our power and our grace. That’s what Roberta Vinci managed to do.  See her irrepressible interview here:

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