Friday, February 05, 2016

An Open Letter to Serena Williams

to win the Australian Open. 

By Dr. Mel Waldman

Dear Serena Williams:
During the 2016 Australian Open, a mammoth snowstorm swept across the U.S.A. The deep snow covered New York City while you and the other players played in the sprawling heat of the Australian summer. And with the 16-hour time difference, I often watched matches in the middle of the night throughout the 2-week period.
You see, I am an aficionado of tennis. Although I haven’t played tennis since the early nineties, and in my heyday was only an adept amateur player, I am now a passionate voyeur. My hungry eyes swallow the rapid sweeping movements of the tennis balls and the cheetah-like motion of the players. I taste and breathe the sultry landscape of the game. Indeed, I devour tennis as if it were my Last Supper.
And I thank you and your sister Venus for feeding American women’s tennis with female power, intelligence, and grace and transforming the game into a transcendent sport and art. I am thankful and joyous.
For most of your 2016 Australian Open, you played at the top of your game and were in the zone. The night before your final, I drank soothing sizzling hot coffee at a Brooklyn Dunkin’ Donuts and told my friends, “I believe Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player of all time.” One of my friends disagreed and we got into a passionate debate. An hour later, neither one of us changed his opinion. We agreed to disagree and wished each other well.
The day of the final I thought about the 2015 U.S. Open and how Roberta Vinci had defeated you in the semifinals. This loss had not changed my perception of you. Your outstanding record speaks for itself. You have nothing to prove to me or any other human being. Great players have bad days too. On any given day, anything is possible.
The night of the final, my wife Michelle, a long-time fan of yours, told me she’d watch the second half of the match. “I want to see Serena win. Tell me when she’s winning. I’ll watch her win and get her trophy.”
I turned the TV on at 3 A.M. The match started about 3:30 A.M. I watched the match alone. During the 1st set, I became concerned. But after you lost the 1st set, you won the 2nd. “Serena won the 2nd set,” I cried out. “Wonderful!” my wife shouted from the bathroom.
Serena’s in the zone, I thought. But then you struggled in the 3rd set and Angelique Kerber
won the Australian Open.
“Serena lost, Michelle,” I said mournfully.
“Oh, no!” she said with disbelief.
During the trophy presentation, you were gracious and generous toward Angelique.
Before going to bed, my wife said, “Serena’s a great champ and a beautiful person.”
I stayed up for a few hours and thought about the final. Now, days later, I am writing this letter. Why? This is my gift to you, Serena Williams, the greatest female tennis player of all time.
I have created a short spiritual and psychological guide to your winning your 22nd Grand Slam singles title and tying Steffi Graf’s record. Please read and enjoy.
Begin at the end and imagine it is a reality now. Everyday, summon all the sensory memories of the 21 Grand Slam finals you won. In your creative mind, re-experience and relive the thoughts, emotions, sensations, and spirituality of joy and success. Hold and caress your 21 Grand Slam singles titles trophies. Ask your team to help you recall and evoke the reality of winning the final.
Everyday, find a quiet place and meditate in silence. Empty your mind of all negative thoughts and emotions. Rediscover a place of serenity. Think, feel, and visualize holistic memories and sensory images of beauty, love, and peace. Let go and immerse yourself in this beautiful place of serenity. Return to this place in your mind as often as possible.
It is a soothing sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone meditating or praying. A mantra connects you to the Source of all life. (OM is an example of a mantra.)
Everyday, immerse yourself in I AM.
I AM beautiful.
I AM loving. .
I AM joyous.
I AM peaceful.
I AM blessed.
I AM powerful.
I AM free.
I AM one with the Source of all life.
Create I AM statements of positive thoughts and emotions. Think and feel and fully experience your I AM Identity.
5. UNITE POWER AND LOVE IN YOUR MIND when playing tennis in the Grand Slam Final.
In my poem about Andrea Jaeger entitled The Habit of Love, I wrote, “What is the spiritual flow of a tennis ball rushing at you at 100+ miles per hour?” Former tennis champ Andrea Jaeger became Sister Andrea Jaeger, a Dominican nun in the Episcopal Church. At 16, she was Number 2 in the world. At 19, her career was over after having 7 surgeries. She didn’t want to be Number 1 because she could not find love and compassion in tennis. She turned to the Church to express and fulfill her love.
Yet I believe that a dialectical union of power and love is possible and necessary for ultimate success. When you return to the finals, imagine you are in a place of serenity, an inner landscape of peace and love, and your game will flow naturally. You will be powerful and triumphant.
Everyday, think, feel, and visualize and return to a place of serenity. Recondition your mind so that on any given day, when playing tennis, you can summon and evoke a meditative, trancelike state of optimal performance.
7. FINALLY, ADDRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM-your conscious and unconscious resistance to winning your 22nd Grand Slam singles title.
I believe the pressure for you to always be great and perfect is a terrible burden. Your world-wide fans love you but expect you to win every time you play tennis. Are they kidding? You’re a human being like the rest of us. Sometimes you’re in the zone and win easily. Other times, you’re not in top form but win with much effort and will power. But some days, your game doesn’t flow, you struggle and fight yourself and lose. That’s okay too! Losing sometimes can be liberating. Failure may free you and lead to success.
When you’re ready to win, you will obliterate your doubts and conflicts, make peace with yourself, and believe.
Please consider my suggestions for winning. Rediscover a place of serenity and win from a beautiful place of love and peace. With love, your game will flow majestically with the power of the Source of all life.
Dr. Mel Waldman 
Dr. Waldman is a Brooklyn-based psychologist as well as a self-proclaimed poet, writer and dreamer.

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